un·​nerve ˌən-ˈnərv How to pronounce unnerve (audio)
unnerved; unnerving; unnerves

transitive verb

: to deprive of courage, strength, or steadiness
: to cause to become nervous : upset
unnervingly adverb
Choose the Right Synonym for unnerve

unnerve, enervate, unman, emasculate mean to deprive of strength or vigor and the capacity for effective action.

unnerve implies marked often temporary loss of courage, self-control, or power to act.

unnerved by the near collision

enervate suggests a gradual physical or moral weakening (as through luxury or indolence) until one is too feeble to make an effort.

a nation's youth enervated by affluence and leisure

unman implies a loss of manly vigor, fortitude, or spirit.

a soldier unmanned by the terrors of battle

emasculate stresses a depriving of characteristic force by removing something essential.

an amendment that emasculates existing safeguards

Examples of unnerve in a Sentence

Seeing the police in there unnerved me. She was unnerved by his strange manner.
Recent Examples on the Web Humor is subjective, of course, but the resulting jokes probably won’t unnerve any stand-up comedians worried AI is coming for their job. Leslie Katz, Forbes, 10 Feb. 2024 The third possibility unnerves a lot of legal experts. Nicholas Riccardi, The Denver Post, 7 Feb. 2024 Some longstanding owners have been unnerved by the influx of new money. Ira Boudway, Fortune, 9 Feb. 2024 The wave of threats, hoaxes and harassment that is unnerving many Americans has helped boost the number of federal threat prosecutions by nearly 50 percent in the past five years compared with the previous five-year period, according to new data from the Justice Department. Devlin Barrett, Washington Post, 12 Jan. 2024 Safety issues are unnerving Boeing’s customers: Chinese airlines will now conduct additional inspections of Boeing planes, delaying the U.S. manufacturer’s return to the Chinese market. Alan Murray, Fortune, 16 Jan. 2024 Lions fans have been waiting 30 years for an opportunity to cheer their team and to unnerve a playoff opponent on the Lions’ home turf. Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times, 9 Jan. 2024 Ed was preparing for a procedure to treat his bladder cancer, which unnerved her. Michael Adno, Rolling Stone, 7 Jan. 2024 Yet the enormity of her influence is unnerving in itself. Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 Dec. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'unnerve.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1603, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of unnerve was in 1603

Dictionary Entries Near unnerve

Cite this Entry

“Unnerve.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unnerve. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


un·​nerve ˌən-ˈnərv How to pronounce unnerve (audio)
unnerved; unnerving
: to deprive of nerve, courage, or self-control
the accident unnerved me

More from Merriam-Webster on unnerve

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