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

Definition of unnerve

transitive verb

1 : to deprive of courage, strength, or steadiness
2 : to cause to become nervous : upset

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Other Words from unnerve

unnervingly \ ˌən-​ˈnər-​viŋ-​lē How to pronounce unnerve (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for unnerve



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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 News of the tax provisions appeared to unnerve investors on Thursday, with stock markets giving up gains as investors absorbed details of Mr. Biden’s capital gains tax plans. New York Times, "Biden Will Seek Tax Increase on Rich to Fund Child Care and Education," 22 Apr. 2021 Maila’s baleful stare, not at all reminiscent of sirens immemorial, also was meant to unnerve viewers. oregonlive, "Maila Nurmi’s Oregon upbringing led to sexy horror icon Vampira; new book captures her intense, tragic life," 15 Apr. 2021 Dune’s practical and creature effects are also impressive for its time, including the brainlike Guild Navigator with slow blinks that unnerve. Jill Krajewski, Vulture, "David Lynch’s Dune Is a Beautiful Sci-fi Disaster," 29 Mar. 2021 Former Deputy Secretary of Labor Patrick Pizzella said the Labor Department’s decision is likely to unnerve individuals using the benefit plans. Dieter Holger, WSJ, "Labor Department Holds Off Enforcement of ESG Rule for 401(k)s," 10 Mar. 2021 That would be wrong, and would unnerve the current dog. Star Tribune, "Lileks: Deep Nostalgia uses artificial intelligence to bring Grandma's photo to life," 7 Mar. 2021 Slumps fail to unnerve Cronenworth, the Padres learned first-hand a season ago. Bryce Miller Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Fighting through massive slump offers window into Padres’ Jake Cronenworth," 4 Mar. 2021 The submarine appears cramped, but not too cramped—with the exception of the crazy-tight engineering section that’s certain to unnerve some people. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Watch This Wild Ride Through the Guts of a Secret Submarine," 27 Jan. 2021 If Stanford has a lot of room for improvement, that should unnerve the other teams in the Pac-12 and across the country. Steve Kroner, SFChronicle.com, "Why Tara VanDerveer says top-ranked, unbeaten Stanford can be even better," 7 Jan. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'unnerve.' 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 unnerve

1603, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for unnerve

Time Traveler

The first known use of unnerve was in 1603

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Statistics for unnerve

Last Updated

26 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Unnerve.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unnerve. Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for unnerve



English Language Learners Definition of unnerve

somewhat formal : to make (someone) feel afraid or upset and unable to think clearly


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

Kids Definition of unnerve

: to cause to lose confidence, courage, or self-control

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Nglish: Translation of unnerve for Spanish Speakers

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