nuisance

noun
nui·​sance | \ ˈnü-sᵊn(t)s, ˈnyü-\

Definition of nuisance

1 : harm, injury relieving the nuisance of poisonous fumes from rural factoriesCollier's Yr. Bk.
2 : one that is annoying, unpleasant, or obnoxious : pest My allergies are a nuisance in the springtime. Weeds are a nuisance to the gardener.

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What is an attractive nuisance?

Nuisance is a fine example of a word that has taken on a weakened meaning. It has been in use in English since the 15th century, and for much of that time signified "harm" or "injury" rather than mere "annoyance" (the word came into our language from French, but it can be traced back to the Latin nocēre, meaning “to harm”). In the early 19th century nuisance began to see considerable use in reference to people or things that were obnoxious rather than injurious, and that meaning has become the prevalent one. We retain evidence of the word’s earlier "harm" sense, however, in the legal term attractive nuisance, which refers to an enticing thing or condition (such as an unattended ladder leaning against a house) that might attract a child and cause them injury.

Examples of nuisance in a Sentence

the new neighbor is threatening to become a nuisance, dropping in on us several times a day folding up this map correctly is such a nuisance

Recent Examples on the Web

Taken together, the judge determined enough nuisance and damaged had been caused to merit monetary damages. Beau Evans, NOLA.com, "Uptown homeowners score $500,000 in lawsuit against Sewerage & Water Board," 27 Apr. 2018 The cities say emissions constitute a public nuisance and that their cases belong in the courts. Kurtis Alexander, San Francisco Chronicle, "People cause climate change, but don’t blame big oil, industry tells judge," 21 Mar. 2018 The company in 2010 settled a class-action lawsuit for $3.325 million with neighbors to the facility who had alleged nuisance and negligence, including noxious odors and air pollution, from the landfill. Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press, "Canadian trash again filling Michigan landfills," 19 Feb. 2018 Addressing the nuisance issue is the easy part—just give everyone who’s not in cars a lot more space. Alissa Walker, Curbed, "How electric bikes can make cities safer," 30 Nov. 2018 For someone who is already resistant to going to the doctor, logistical nuisances like finding a provider, working out the insurance, and obtaining old medical records can seem like daunting obstacles. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "How to Persuade Someone You Love to See a Doctor," 6 Nov. 2018 But experts stressed that such equipment failures generally are considered more of an expensive and time-consuming nuisance than an imminent safety hazard. Andy Pasztor, WSJ, "First Lady’s Plane Turned Around After ‘Minor Mechanical Issue’," 17 Oct. 2018 Lots of flies pose a mild nuisance — like the fruit fly on the left — but the knife-like mouthparts of horse flies make their bites especially painful, according to the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "QUIZ: Can You Identify These Dangerous Summer Plants and Bugs?," 3 Aug. 2018 Adrian said the company did not initially treat it as a nuisance settlement. Kevin Crowe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'He'll evict you in a minute.' Landlord quietly becomes a force in Milwaukee rental business...and eviction court," 13 July 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for nuisance

Middle English nusaunce, noisaunce "harm, damage, (in law) cause of annoyance or inconvenience," borrowed from Anglo-French nusance, noisance, from nuis-, nois-, nus-, stem of nuire, nure, noisir, nuser "to injure, damage, vex" (going back to Latin nocēre "to injure, harm") +-ance -ance — more at noxious

Note: The meanings of Anglo-French nuire and nusance have been influenced by partially overlapping forms of noier "to annoy, vex," an aphetic form of anoier, ennoier (see annoy).

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Statistics for nuisance

Last Updated

22 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for nuisance

The first known use of nuisance was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for nuisance

nuisance

noun

English Language Learners Definition of nuisance

: a person, thing, or situation that is annoying or that causes trouble or problems

nuisance

noun
nui·​sance | \ ˈnü-sᵊns, ˈnyü-\

Kids Definition of nuisance

: an annoying or troublesome person, thing, or situation

nuisance

noun
nui·​sance | \ ˈnüs-ᵊns, ˈnyüs- \

Legal Definition of nuisance

: something (as an act, object, or practice) that invades or interferes with another's rights or interests (as the use or enjoyment of property) by being offensive, annoying, dangerous, obstructive, or unhealthful
attractive nuisance
1 : a thing or condition on one's property that poses a risk to children who may be attracted to it without realizing the risk by virtue of their youth
2 : a doctrine or theory employed in most jurisdictions: a possessor of property may be liable for injury caused to a trespassing or invited child by a condition on the property if he or she failed to use ordinary care in preventing such injury (as by fencing in a pool) and had reason to foresee entry by the child and if the utility of the condition was minor compared to the likelihood of injury declined to extend the doctrine of attractive nuisance…to moving trainsHoneycutt v. City of Wichita, 796 P.2d 549 (1990)

Note: The doctrine of attractive nuisance originated in an 1873 U.S. Supreme Court case, Sioux City & Pacific Railroad Co. v. Stout, 84 U.S. 657 (1873), involving a trespassing child injured by a railroad turntable; an early premise was that the attractive nuisance caused the trespass, and so by extension the owner was responsible for the trespass as well. Subsequent modification of the doctrine has focused on the possessor's duty to use care in preventing injury, whether a child is a trespasser or invitee.

common nuisance
: public nuisance in this entry
nuisance at law
: nuisance per se in this entry
nuisance in fact
: an act, occupation, or structure that is considered a nuisance in relation to its circumstances or surroundings a lawful business may be a nuisance in fact in a particular location

called also nuisance per accidens

— compare nuisance per se in this entry
nuisance per se
: an act, occupation, or structure that is considered a nuisance regardless of its circumstances or surroundings a house of prostitution is a nuisance per se

called also nuisance at law

— compare nuisance in fact in this entry
private nuisance
: something (as an activity) that constitutes an unreasonable interference in the right to the use and enjoyment of one's property and that may be a cause of action in civil litigation
public nuisance
: something that unreasonably interferes with the health, safety, comfort, morals, or convenience of the community and that is treated as a criminal violation declared that the landfill was a present and prospective public nuisance and ordered…operations to ceaseSCA Servs. v. Transportation Ins. Co., 646 N.E.2d 394 (1995)

called also common nuisance

History and Etymology for nuisance

Anglo-French nusaunce, from Old French nuire to harm, from Latin nocēre

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