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 WebCouncil member Ann Granato said pickleball playing can be a nuisance for county residents living near courts.
Leia Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, 10 Feb. 2022 The fine lunar particles can be a real nuisance for astronauts, worse than beach sand.
Ramin Skibba, Wired, 25 Jan. 2022 Traffic congestion has also been a nuisance for visitors and locals alike, some estimating trips from the foot of the mountain into Big Bear at three to four hours.
Jonah Valdez, Los Angeles Times, 13 Jan. 2022 The flock, estimated at over 1,000 birds, has grown into a considerable nuisance, often cawing well before sunrise and waking up area residents.
Kiet Do, CBS News, 13 Jan. 2022 The site is one of three proposed initially in the region, and was chosen because of solid public and landowner support and a good, forested habitat for wild elk, which have been a nuisance to farmers in parts of Kittson County.
Jana Hollingsworth, Star Tribune, 9 July 2021 Shuffling behind tour guides, gazing upward at the architecture or pausing abruptly to buy souvenirs from street hawkers, the visitors were often a nuisance to locals navigating the streets.
Ciara Nugent, Time, 9 June 2021 Chamber of Commerce attorney John Tucker said the race massacre was horrible, but that the nuisance is not ongoing.
Ken Miller, USA TODAY, 3 May 2022 The core reason is that the robocalling nuisance is a consequence of economics, not technology.
Jonathan Rosenberg, Forbes, 2 May 2022 See More
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.
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
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).
: an annoying or troublesome person, thing, or situation
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
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 injurydeclined to extend the doctrine of attractive nuisance…to moving trains — Honeycutt v. City of Wichita, 796 P.2d 549 (1990)
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.
: 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 surroundingsa lawful business may be a nuisance in fact in a particular location
—called alsonuisance 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 surroundingsa house of prostitution is a nuisance per se
—called alsonuisance at law
— compare nuisance in fact in this entry
: 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
: something that unreasonably interferes with the health, safety, comfort, morals, or convenience of the community and that is treated as a criminal violationdeclared that the landfill was a present and prospective public nuisance and ordered…operations to cease — SCA Servs. v. Transportation Ins. Co., 646 N.E.2d 394 (1995)
—called alsocommon nuisance
History and Etymology for nuisance
Anglo-French nusaunce, from Old French nuire to harm, from Latin nocēre