neu·​ro·​sis | \ nu̇-ˈrō-səs How to pronounce neurosis (audio) , nyu̇-\
plural neuroses\ nu̇-​ˈrō-​ˌsēz How to pronounce neuroses (audio) , nyu̇-​ \

Definition of neurosis

: a mental and emotional disorder that affects only part of the personality, is accompanied by a less distorted perception of reality than in a psychosis, does not result in disturbance of the use of language, and is accompanied by various physical, physiological, and mental disturbances (such as visceral symptoms, anxieties, or phobias)

Examples of neurosis in a Sentence

LBJ by legend watched the evening news about Vietnam simultaneously on three TVs, a ticket to a neurosis and night sweats. — Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal, 2 Dec. 2005 He's self-conscious about few things, period, and so utterly lacking in neurosis that it's unnerving, frankly. — Ned Zeman, Vanity Fair, February 2001 None of this official intervention did much to calm the fretfulness about maidservants, for the anxiety about their being both unreliable yet indispensable marked the birth of an authentically bourgeois neurosis. — Simon Schama, The Embarrassment of Riches, 1988
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Recent Examples on the Web

In Anne’s neuroses and intensity, her oddities and intelligence, Richard finds a kindred spirit. David Canfield,, "Going Dutch is a hilarious, feverish deconstruction of gay millennial life," 19 Aug. 2019 The book channels Tom Wolfe’s fiction—the gonzo, swooshy sentences, the satirical edge—and Roth is everywhere, too, in Toby’s lust, Jewishness, and incandescent neurosis. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, "“Fleishman Is in Trouble” Turns the Marriage Novel Inside-Out," 27 June 2019 The first one, released to great commercial success in 2016, pulled off the dubious trick of turning these squawking projectiles into characters, each with its own wisecracks and neuroses. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: Exuberantly silly ‘Angry Birds Movie 2' flies higher than the first," 15 Aug. 2019 Following her parents’ abrupt separation and a swift move from Rhode Island to California, May watched helplessly as her mother receded into neurosis, depression and seclusion. Lou Fancher, The Mercury News, "The ‘Honey Bus’ was a driving force in author Meredith May’s well-being," 19 June 2019 Ford’s alpha dog is pure action cool, ripping off Max’s cone in disgust (not the best message for kids in treatment), rejecting Max’s embarrassed neurosis and being the cold, silent type. Mark Kennedy, Houston Chronicle, "‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’ is a well-crafted sequel," 6 June 2019 Bomer masterfully inhabits the role, with Sean's neuroses and sadness always ringing true. Randy Cordova, azcentral, "In 'Papi Chulo,' a lonely weatherman and a day laborer form a delightful friendship," 10 June 2019 And there are more obvious missions for these pets, who all need to overcome their own neurosis. Blake Bakkila, Good Housekeeping, "The Star-Studded Cast of 'The Secret Life of Pets 2' Has Surprising Additions," 13 May 2019 Leaders of the 27 countries remaining in the EU gave Britain another two weeks (or maybe two months) to resolve its political neuroses. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Choice Is Britain’s," 22 Mar. 2019

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

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First Known Use of neurosis

circa 1784, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for neurosis

borrowed from New Latin neurōsis "any of various conditions (as coma or paralysis) involving impairment of the sensory and motor systems without local disease or fever," from Greek neûron "sinew, tendon, nerve" + New Latin -ōsis -osis — more at nerve entry 1

Note: The Latin term neurosis was introduced in the sense given in the etymology ("sensus et motus laesi, sine pyrexia et sine morbo locali") by the Scottish physician William Cullen (1710-90) in Synopsis nosologiæ methodicæ (Edinburgh, 1769), p. 274. Cullen later used the word in English: "In this place I propose to comprehend, under the title of Neuroses, all those preternatural affections of sense or motion, which are without pyrexia as part of the primary disease; and all those which do not depend upon a topical affection of the organs, but upon a more general affection of the nervous system, and of those powers on which sense and motion more especially depend." (First Lines of the Practice of Physic, for the Use of the Students in the University of Edinburgh, vol. 3 [Edinburgh, 1783], p. 2).

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Statistics for neurosis

Last Updated

8 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for neurosis

The first known use of neurosis was circa 1784

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English Language Learners Definition of neurosis

medical : an emotional illness in which a person experiences strong feelings of fear or worry


neu·​ro·​sis | \ n(y)u̇-ˈrō-səs How to pronounce neurosis (audio) \
plural neuroses\ -​ˌsēz How to pronounce neuroses (audio) \

Medical Definition of neurosis

: a mental and emotional disorder that affects only part of the personality, is accompanied by a less distorted perception of reality than in a psychosis, does not result in disturbance of the use of language, and is accompanied by various physical, physiological, and mental disturbances (as visceral symptoms, anxieties, or phobias)

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More from Merriam-Webster on neurosis

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with neurosis

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for neurosis

Spanish Central: Translation of neurosis

Nglish: Translation of neurosis for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about neurosis

Comments on neurosis

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


a topic to which one constantly reverts

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