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 That’s helpful if someone is simply being a nuisance. Medea Giordano, Wired, "The Best Personal Safety Devices, Apps, and Alarms," 13 May 2021 The biggest point of contention is a provision that limits landlords’ ability to evict tenants for lease violations and, in general, being a nuisance. Phillip Molnar, San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego County to again consider short-term rent cap, limiting evictions," 3 May 2021 Klein said a bird attack may be just a nuisance to some. orlandosentinel.com, "Florida city pays falcon handler to keep birds from attacking," 26 Apr. 2021 More than a nuisance, seeing storefronts poised for violence has a profound effect on our mental health and social relations. Anne Quito, Quartz, "The psychological toll of boarding up our cities," 21 Apr. 2021 Drag racing and loud mufflers are becoming more than a nuisance in Naperville, and city officials are formulating more aggressive action. Suzanne Baker, chicagotribune.com, "Naperville police preparing ‘aggressive’ measures to curb drag racing, loud mufflers on city streets," 9 Apr. 2021 Yet, political insiders in Georgia and Ohio predict efforts to block Kemp and DeWine from renomination will fail, amounting to nothing more than a nuisance. David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner, "GOP governors ready for Trump attacks in 2022," 18 Dec. 2020 And the non-native animals have long been a nuisance in the area. Shanti Lerner, USA TODAY, "Grand Canyon NP seeks 'skilled' hunters to reduce bison population inside the park," 30 Apr. 2021 While relatively harmless, the emerging insects can certainly be a nuisance. Marshall Shepherd, Forbes, "17-Year Cicadas Are Coming - NASA And Meteorology Could Tell Us When," 27 Apr. 2021

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

16 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nuisance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nuisance. Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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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 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

Comments on nuisance

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