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

The lawsuits said the companies created a public nuisance and should pay for sea walls and other infrastructure to protect against the effects of climate change — construction that could cost billions of dollars. Sudhin Thanawala, The Seattle Times, "US judge throws out climate change lawsuits against big oil," 26 June 2018 In Denver, city officials are busy writing regulations and are impounding scooters found creating a public nuisance. Jessica Guynn, USA TODAY, "In the Scooter Wars of 2018, it's not really about the scooters," 21 June 2018 Portland plans to argue that drug companies created a public nuisance and acted negligently. Brad Schmidt, OregonLive.com, "Portland to sue opioid companies for costs of local havoc," 21 Feb. 2018 Ball faces charges of murder; dealing and possession of methamphetamine; maintaining a common nuisance; possession of paraphernalia and unlawful possession of a syringe. Holly V. Hays, Indianapolis Star, "Authorities charge 2 more men in death of Boone County Deputy Jacob Pickett," 11 July 2018 The popular club on the Gulf Freeway has been shuttered since Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg filed a nuisance suit against the owners. Chronicle Staff, Houston Chronicle, "Bombshells sports bar allowed to sell alcohol in settlement requiring close monitoring," 20 June 2018 This was meant to curb nuisance suits and settlements, but plaintiffs ran to file in state courts instead. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Worst Law in America," 25 Mar. 2018 The companies financed the initiative after court rulings declared lead paint to be a public nuisance and required them to pay for cleanup. Sophia Bollag, The Seattle Times, "California lead paint liability initiative heads to ballot," 26 June 2018 There was a case in Broward County in 2005 where the judge ruled that secondhand smoke was a nuisance and ordered the smoker to stop. Gary M. Singer, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Ask a real estate pro: Neighbor's smoking is getting into my unit. What can I do?," 22 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, from Anglo-French, from nuisir, nuire to harm, from Latin nocēre — more at noxious

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Statistics for nuisance

Last Updated

12 Nov 2018

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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