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

People living in the Seattle suburbs are having to deal with a unique nuisance: Residents are reporting that bald eagles have been dropping trash into their yards, and no one is quite sure how to deal with it. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Bald Eagles Are Stealing Trash from a Seattle Landfill and Dropping it in the Suburbs," 4 Apr. 2019 There were nearly 50 billion of these nuisances in 2018, according to YouMail. Roger Meiners, WSJ, "A Tax on Robocalls Makes Plenty of Cents," 27 Mar. 2019 Shane Jones, who runs Ridtek Pest Control, said the wasps are aggressive this time of year, but the cold winter caused the wasp season to start six weeks earlier, making them a greater nuisance to people. Fox News, "'Drunk and irritable' wasps are going on 'stinging rampages'," 9 Aug. 2018 Three years ago, Metro Council expanded those rules to cover hotels and motels, and added assault and homicide to the list of offenses considered a nuisance. Darcy Costello, The Courier-Journal, "Gas station called 'cancer in our midst' loses appeal and must leave," 22 June 2018 Fighting against such a small nuisance as the tick can seem difficult, especially for pets who can’t take precautionary measures on their own. Kelli Bender, PEOPLE.com, "How to Protect Your Pet From 2018's Dangerous Tick Season," 7 June 2018 But consider this nothing more than a mild atmospheric nuisance. Greg Porter, Washington Post, "PM Update: Clearing overnight tonight. Mostly sunny and hot for Friday.," 28 June 2018 For Dorsey and his peers, the conservative clamor could be more than a public-relations nuisance. Tony Romm, chicagotribune.com, "Inside Facebook and Twitter's secret meetings with Trump aides and conservative leaders," 27 June 2018 Your child’s proclivity for spending all day playing video games could be more than just a nuisance. Mary Bernard, Philly.com, "WHO recognizes excessive video gaming as new mental health disorder," 21 June 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

16 Apr 2019

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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 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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