ner·​vous | \ ˈnər-vəs How to pronounce nervous (audio) \

Definition of nervous

1a : timid, apprehensive a nervous smile nervous of strangers
b : easily excited or irritated : jumpy … so nervous that he had to be escorted outside court to vomit …— Kevin Johnson and Andrea Stone
c : of or relating to the nerves also : originating in or affected by the nerves nervous energy a nervous twitch
2a : tending to produce nervousness or agitation : uneasy a nervous situation His face was twisted in nervous anticipation.— Dagoberto Gilb
b : appearing or acting unsteady, erratic, or irregular used of inanimate things … climbed carefully into his nervous kayak …— Farley Mowat
3 : of, relating to, or composed of neurons
4 : marked by strength of thought, feeling, or style : spirited a vibrant tight-packed nervous style of writing
5 archaic : sinewy, strong

Other Words from nervous

nervously adverb
nervousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for nervous

vigorous, energetic, strenuous, lusty, nervous mean having or showing great vitality and force. vigorous further implies showing no signs of depletion or diminishing of freshness or robustness. as vigorous as a youth half his age energetic suggests a capacity for intense activity. an energetic campaigner strenuous suggests a preference for coping with the arduous or the challenging. the strenuous life on an oil rig lusty implies exuberant energy and capacity for enjoyment. a lusty appetite for life nervous suggests especially the forcibleness and sustained effectiveness resulting from mental vigor. full of nervous energy

Examples of nervous in a Sentence

She is nervous about her job interview. All this waiting is making me nervous. He gave a nervous glance at the clock. His nervous mother is always worrying that something terrible will happen to him. He has a nervous disposition. It was a very nervous situation. She suffers from a nervous disorder. He walked around with a nervous twitch. He had a nervous habit of pulling at his hair. The boy has a lot of nervous energy. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The rising seventh-grader at Southwest Academy in Woodlawn was nervous to read her words before a large crowd for the first time. Daniel Wu, Washington Post, 14 July 2022 There could be salary cuts and requirements to return to an office, as executives get nervous and want to exert control over their staff. Jack Kelly, Forbes, 6 July 2022 Erika was nervous to face Garcelle at the gathering. Dory Jackson,, 6 July 2022 Above all, Charlotte Walsh did not want to get nervous. Tara Bahrampour, Anchorage Daily News, 2 June 2022 In Francine’s early days of introducing the dish to her friends, some would get nervous at the thought of leaving fish at room temperature, but that’s what the vinegar is for. New York Times, 20 Apr. 2022 Central bankers get nervous when families and business leaders anticipate higher prices, because that can become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Matt Egan, CNN, 25 Mar. 2022 When there’s a big game, 20-year-olds get nervous and worried. New York Times, 14 July 2022 There are a lot of nervous fan bases across the Western third of the country, all of whom want answers and clarity immediately — but no answers are coming until at least the end of the 30 days. Josh Newman, The Salt Lake Tribune, 14 July 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of nervous

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 5

History and Etymology for nervous

Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French nervus, nervous, borrowed from Latin nervōsus "full of tendons, sinewy, tough, vigorous (of a person or literary style)," from nervus "sinew, muscle, nerve entry 1" + -ōsus -ous

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Time Traveler for nervous

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

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Dictionary Entries Near nervous



nervous breakdown

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Last Updated

31 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Nervous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for nervous


ner·​vous | \ ˈnər-vəs How to pronounce nervous (audio) \

Kids Definition of nervous

1 : having or showing feelings of worry, fear, or anxiety Having to give a speech makes me nervous.
2 : easily becoming worried, frightened, or anxious She's a nervous driver.
3 : of, relating to, or made up of nerves or nerve cells nervous tissue

Other Words from nervous

nervously adverb
nervousness noun


ner·​vous | \ ˈnər-vəs How to pronounce nervous (audio) \

Medical Definition of nervous

1 : of, relating to, or composed of neurons the nervous layer of the eye
2a : of or relating to the nerves also : originating in or affected by the nerves nervous energy
b : easily excited or irritated

Other Words from nervous

nervously adverb
nervousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on nervous

Nglish: Translation of nervous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nervous for Arabic Speakers


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