nerve

noun
\ 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

nerve

verb
nerved; nerving

Definition of nerve (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for nerve

Noun

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

The figures add to signs the global economy remained resilient as the year kicked off despite nerves over trade tensions and a slowdown in China. Jason Douglas, WSJ, "Brexit Preparation Helped Speed Up U.K. Economy," 10 May 2019 The neck is full of nerve-endings, which can make a kiss there a lot more pleasurable. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "Do Hickeys Hurt?," 3 May 2019 All of this is leading to what looks to be a very serious and nerve-racking episode next Tuesday. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'This Is Us' Fans Are Furious With Kevin After the Latest Episode," 20 Mar. 2019 The Novichok nerve agents’ estimated LD50 may be as low as 4,000 ng/kg — deadlier than tetradotoxin, but nowhere close to botulinum’s lethality. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, "20 Things You Didn't Know About ... Poison," 25 Sep. 2018 Imagine: a woman of color, with the nerve to assert that her feelings are just as important as a powerful white man. Glamour, "What Lucy Flores Can Teach Us About How We Value Women’s Feelings," 3 Apr. 2019 Electrical pulses travel along the nerve to the muscles, which can expand and contract in response. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "“Rainbow” weevil could hold the secret to generating nature’s colors in the lab," 23 Sep. 2018 Smith missed his entire rookie season in 2016 recovering from injuries to his anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his left knee and overcoming damage to the peroneal nerve in his final game at Notre Dame. Drew Davison, star-telegram, "Yoga? Cowboys' Jaylon Smith explains how his new offseason routine is paying off," 31 May 2018 Made of flexible organic components, the nerve consists of three parts. Robert F. Service, Science | AAAS, "New artificial nerves could transform prosthetics," 31 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Calcium: High in calcium, açaí berries will help keep your bones, heart, muscles, and nerves strong and healthy. Tehrene Firman, Good Housekeeping, "10 Things You Should Know About Açaí Berries, Nature's "Purple Gold"," 23 July 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of nerve

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1750, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for nerve

Noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about nerve

Statistics for nerve

Last Updated

14 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for nerve

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for nerve

nerve

noun

English Language Learners Definition of nerve

: one of the many thin parts that control movement and feeling by carrying messages between the brain and other parts of the body
: courage that allows you to do something that is dangerous, difficult, or frightening
: the rude attitude of someone who says or does things that make other people angry or upset

nerve

noun
\ 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

nerve

noun
\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on nerve

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with nerve

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nerve

Spanish Central: Translation of nerve

Nglish: Translation of nerve for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nerve for Arabic Speakers

Comments on nerve

What made you want to look up nerve? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

one that collects or salvages junk

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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