nervous

adjective

ner·​vous ˈnər-vəs How to pronounce nervous (audio)
1
a
: 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
2
a
: 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
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.
Recent Examples on the Web Like any teenage rookie, Bronny James, who was selected by the Lakers in the second round of last week’s draft, chose his words carefully and sounded nervous at times Tuesday during his introductory news conference alongside General Manager Rob Pelinka and Coach JJ Redick. Ben Golliver, Washington Post, 2 July 2024 Black tea is a good source of manganese, a mineral involved in energy metabolism, blood clotting, and nervous and immune system function. Jillian Kubala, Health, 2 July 2024 Still, Autoweek reports that consumers remain nervous about pulling the trigger on a new car. Collin Woodard / Jalopnik, Quartz, 1 July 2024 In Middle Rock, the first American suburb that’s fifty per cent Jewish, ostentatious wealth is a disguise, a nervous attempt by the town’s residents to camouflage their minority status against the backdrop of the American Dream. Jennifer Wilson, The New Yorker, 1 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for nervous 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'nervous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 5

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

Dictionary Entries Near nervous

Cite this Entry

“Nervous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nervous. Accessed 19 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

nervous

adjective
ner·​vous ˈnər-vəs How to pronounce nervous (audio)
1
a
: of, relating to, or composed of neurons
nervous tissue
b
: of or relating to the nerves
c
: having its source in or affected by the nerves
nervous energy
2
a
: easily excited or irritated
a nervous person
b
: timid, fearful
a nervous smile
3
: causing uncomfortable feelings
a nervous situation
nervously adverb
nervousness noun

Medical Definition

nervous

adjective
ner·​vous ˈnər-vəs How to pronounce nervous (audio)
1
: of, relating to, or composed of neurons
the nervous layer of the eye
2
a
: of or relating to the nerves
also : originating in or affected by the nerves
nervous energy
b
: easily excited or irritated
nervously adverb
nervousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on nervous

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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