\ ˈnərv How to pronounce nerve (audio) \

Definition of nerve

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : sinew, tendon strain every nerve
2 : any of the filamentous bands of nervous tissue that connect parts of the nervous system with the other organs, conduct nerve impulses, and are made up of axons and dendrites together with protective and supportive structures
3a : power of endurance or control : fortitude, strength
b : assurance, boldness also : presumptuous audacity : gall
4a : a sore or sensitive point her remark touched a nerve
b nerves plural : nervous agitation or irritability : nervousness a case of nerves
6 : the sensitive pulp of a tooth


nerved; nerving

Definition of nerve (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to give strength or courage to : supply with physical or moral force

Choose the Right Synonym for nerve


temerity, audacity, hardihood, effrontery, nerve, cheek, gall, chutzpah mean conspicuous or flagrant boldness. temerity suggests boldness arising from rashness and contempt of danger. had the temerity to refuse audacity implies a disregard of restraints commonly imposed by convention or prudence. an entrepreneur with audacity and vision hardihood suggests firmness in daring and defiance. admired for her hardihood effrontery implies shameless, insolent disregard of propriety or courtesy. outraged at his effrontery nerve, cheek, gall, and chutzpah are informal equivalents for effrontery. the nerve of that guy has the cheek to call herself a singer had the gall to demand proof the chutzpah needed for a career in show business

Examples of nerve in a Sentence

Noun The optic nerve in the eye allows you to see. a condition affecting the nerves in her arm It takes a lot of nerve to start a new career. He found the nerve to stand up to his boss. I was going to ask her to the dance, but I lost my nerve. You have a lot of nerve to talk to me that way. I can't believe she had the nerve to call me a liar. Verb needs to nerve himself for the big game tomorrow See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Researchers found the nerve effects were not caused by shock wave or heat, but by the electromagnetic pulse produced by the expanding plasma fireball. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, 23 May 2022 Russia’s secret police have used nerve agents to attack political opponents inside and outside Russia. Joe Lieberman, STAT, 19 May 2022 There would be periods of losing the feeling in her legs as well as bouts of shingles and nerve pain. Wendy Kaur, ELLE, 18 May 2022 World leaders must muster the heart, brain, muscle, nerve, and soul to lead us to still waters, and the decisive convening in Davos on May 22 marks a historic 797 days after the declaration of the pandemic. David Walcott, Forbes, 17 May 2022 Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by nerve compression in the wrist. Dr. Keith Roach, oregonlive, 10 May 2022 During a group conversation with PEOPLE and Parade, the contestants revealed that their conditions made the show that much more nerve-wrecking. Daniela Avila,, 9 May 2022 Kelly has been working his way back all spring from a right biceps nerve injury suffered last season. Lamond Pope, Chicago Tribune, 8 May 2022 The woman who used to walk for 90 minutes a day could barely go 100 feet without stabbing nerve pain in her feet – similar to diabetic neuropathy. Jacqueline Howard, CNN, 2 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Diphtheria is a highly contagious bacterial disease that clogs the throat with dead tissue and can inflict severe heart and nerve damage. Zachary Snowdon Smith, Forbes, 21 Apr. 2022 Endometriosis is a whole-of-body disease in which tissue similar to that which usually lines the uterus grows in other areas of the body and causes pain, nerve damage and organ damage, among many other symptoms. Lucia Osborne-crowley,, 3 Apr. 2022 Once Jocelyne Bloch, a neurosurgeon at Lausanne University Hospital, implanted the stimulator, the devices were tested and adjusted to account for the variability in spinal cord length, nerve positioning, and other factors. Isabella Cueto, STAT, 8 Feb. 2022 Australia’s venomous box jellyfish, which releases nerve toxins that by some estimates can kill within one minute. Elizabeth Hightower Allen, Outside Online, 2 Mar. 2022 The second potential culprit of the sensory change is damage to the smell nerve itself. Melissa Fiorenza,, 8 Feb. 2022 Williams has only started in 20 games and played 28 through three seasons as a Browns corner -- nerve damage in his neck sidelined him for 2020. Lance Reisland, cleveland, 28 Jan. 2022 Another subset of recipients developed Guillain-Barre syndrome, a noncontagious autoimmune disorder that can cause paralysis or nerve damage. Los Angeles Times, 23 Dec. 2021 But after sitting out her junior year in 2018-19, Agentowicz began feeling pain and numbness in her right leg, which doctors attributed to nerve damage. Edward Lee,, 19 Dec. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nerve.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of nerve


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1750, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for nerve


Latin nervus sinew, nerve; akin to Greek neuron sinew, nerve, nēn to spin — more at needle

Learn More About nerve

Time Traveler for nerve

Time Traveler

The first known use of nerve was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near nerve



nerve agent

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for nerve

Last Updated

26 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Nerve.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for nerve


\ ˈnərv How to pronounce nerve (audio) \

Kids Definition of nerve

1 : a bundle of nerve fibers that carries messages in the form of nerve impulses to or away from the brain and spinal cord
2 : courage, boldness "I've always wanted to do something like that … I just didn't have the nerve."— Jack Gantos, Joey Pigza Loses Control
3 : rude or disrespectful boldness You've got a lot of nerve to talk to me that way.
4 nerves plural : feelings of worry The groom suffered from nerves before the wedding.
5 : the sensitive soft inner part of a tooth

Other Words from nerve

nerveless \ -​ləs \ adjective


\ ˈnərv How to pronounce nerve (audio) \

Medical Definition of nerve

1 : any of the filamentous bands of nervous tissue that connect parts of the nervous system with the other organs, conduct nerve impulses, and are made up of axons and dendrites together with protective and supportive structures and that for the larger nerves have the fibers gathered into funiculi surrounded by a perineurium and the funiculi enclosed in a common epineurium
2 nerves plural : a state or condition of nervous agitation or irritability
3 : the sensitive pulp of a tooth

More from Merriam-Webster on nerve

Nglish: Translation of nerve for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nerve for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Color

  • a light greenish blue color
  • Name that color:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!