\ˈnər-vē \
nervier; nerviest

Definition of nervy 

1 archaic : sinewy, strong

2a : showing or expressive of calm courage : bold

b : marked by effrontery or presumption : brash

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from nervy

nervily \ ˈnər-​və-​lē \ adverb
nerviness \ ˈnər-​vē-​nəs \ noun

Examples of nervy in a Sentence

a nervy performance in the play-offs a nervy film director who's not afraid to take risks The passengers were restless and nervy after the long flight. Too much coffee makes me nervy.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

With the £7m arrival of Scotland international Stuart Armstrong from Celtic, and Manchester City stopper Angus Gunn coming in for £13.5m, Saints are making moves to better their prior campaign after a nervy 17th place finish., "Denmark International Jannik Vestergaard Completes Medical Ahead of £18m Move to Southampton," 12 July 2018 Thirlby is the only real firecracker here, bringing a compellingly nervy ambiguity to a character whose divided loyalties are thuddingly foreshadowed right from her first scene. Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Damascus Cover': Film Review," 4 July 2018 Johnson holed medium-length putts for birdies, a few nervy, short putts for par and picked up a bonus when his shot from a front bunker on the par-4 eighth rattled and rolled into the cup. Doug Ferguson,, "Dustin Johnson shares lead with three others in a U.S. Open that plays like one," 14 June 2018 Brazil star Douglas Costa could reportedly miss most of the remaining matches of the FIFA World Cup in Russia, having sustained a thigh injury in the Samba Boys' nervy 2-0 win over Costa Rica in Group E in St Petersburg on Friday., "Injured Brazil World Cup Star Douglas Costa Could Be out for 3 Weeks, According to Shocking Report," 25 June 2018 Goals in either half from Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic were enough to ensure victory, despite some nervy moments, and United will now join Tottenham in tie semi final ties at Wembley on the weekend of April 21., "Man Utd 2-0 Brighton: Lukaku & Matic Headers Send Red Devils Into FA Cup Semi Finals," 17 Mar. 2018 Elections are due in some important emerging nations, including Brazil, Mexico and Turkey, which make investors nervy. Richard Barley, WSJ, "China and Dollar Test Emerging Markets’ Bull Run," 30 Apr. 2018 Chaves needed two putts from 70 feet to make a nervy par. Tod Leonard,, "Mountain West golf title for SDSU's Chaves was long time coming," 7 May 2018 Liverpool's quarterfinal matchup with English rival Manchester City was a nervy one, but the Reds pulled hung on to get back to the semifinals for the first time since 2008. Jesse Yomtov, USA TODAY, "Champions League semifinals draw: Bayern Munich–Real Madrid, Liverpool-Roma," 13 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nervy.' 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 nervy

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about nervy

Dictionary Entries near nervy








Statistics for nervy

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for nervy

The first known use of nervy was in 1598

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for nervy



English Language Learners Definition of nervy

: having or showing courage or confidence

—used to describe someone who says or does rude or shocking things that make other people angry or upset

: feeling unpleasantly nervous or excited : not calm


\ˈnər-vē \
nervier; nerviest

Kids Definition of nervy

1 : showing calm courage The team won after a nervy performance.

2 : showing or acting with disrespectful boldness

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on nervy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nervy

Spanish Central: Translation of nervy

Nglish: Translation of nervy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nervy for Arabic Speakers

Comments on nervy

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


noxious or harmful

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a-traditional-thanksgiving-dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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