nuisance

noun
nui·​sance | \ ˈnü-sᵊn(t)s How to pronounce nuisance (audio) , 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 This was a nuisance for someone who craved constant reinvention. Anne Quito, Quartz at Work, "Milton Glaser’s brilliant last year," 8 July 2020 Putting the appeal in context: The oil majors’ effort comes after the industry suffered a third setback this week in their attempts to move climate nuisance cases brought by cities and counties to federal court. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, "Daily on Energy: Dakota Access shutdown could leave hundreds of thousands of oil barrels without an export route," 10 July 2020 In a time where everyday life seems to be full of adjustments, even this one small issue can feel like a major nuisance. Southern Living, "Glasses Getting Foggy? How To Keep Your Eyewear Clear, No Matter How Humid It Gets," 10 July 2020 She was cited for having dogs at large and creating a nuisance. cleveland, "Bored girls climb the walls, dogs go on the attack: Chagrin Falls Police Blotter," 2 July 2020 Anyone who violates the curfew risks being issued criminal nuisance citations that could include a fine up to $1,000 or 30 days in jail, officials previously announced. Chelsea Curtis, The Arizona Republic, "'Alarming rise' in COVID-19 cases around Navajo Nation leads to more weekend curfews," 1 July 2020 The buzzing, biting pests of summer — mosquitoes and ticks — are more than just a nuisance. Jordan Nutting, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Heading outside this summer? Here's what you need to know about bug repellents," 27 June 2020 Businesses who do not comply can be declared a nuisance and lose their business license. Sarah Brookbank, The Enquirer, "Traveling this summer? Masks are mandatory in Hilton Head Island," 30 June 2020 Other state and local lawsuits against oil companies have been brought as public nuisance challenges. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, "Daily on Energy, presented by API: The oil price recovery is not enough for many producers," 25 June 2020

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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Learn More about nuisance

Time Traveler for nuisance

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for nuisance

Last Updated

26 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Nuisance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nuisance. Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for nuisance

nuisance

noun
How to pronounce nuisance (audio)

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 How to pronounce nuisance (audio) , ˈnyü- \

Kids Definition of nuisance

: an annoying or troublesome person, thing, or situation

nuisance

noun
nui·​sance | \ ˈnüs-ᵊns, ˈnyüs- How to pronounce nuisance (audio) \

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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