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 unnervingly (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for unnerve



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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 The entanglement unnerved some Apple executives, who encouraged company leaders to look outside China to minimize the risks of labor unrest or a change in Beijing’s position on Apple. Yoko Kubota, WSJ, "Tim Cook and Apple Bet Everything on China. Then Coronavirus Hit.," 3 Mar. 2020 Hundreds of miles from the nearest source of help, the scientists were both unnerved and utterly exhilarated. Sarah Kaplan, Anchorage Daily News, "Voyagers to the ‘epicenter of global warming’ struggle with storms, polar bears and thin ice," 13 Jan. 2020 Dozens of attacks on health care workers have been reported in Mexico, where intense outbreaks among hospital staff of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, have unnerved residents and members of the medical community alike. Kirk Semple, New York Times, "‘Afraid to Be a Nurse’: Health Workers Under Attack," 27 Apr. 2020 In a time of heightened uncertainty, this latest development is sure to further unnerve markets, individuals, and governments around the world. Annabelle Timsit, Quartz, "What Boris Johnson’s absence could mean for the UK’s coronavirus response," 6 Apr. 2020 Images of large crowds sunbathing and playing the beaches have unnerved concerned people on social media upset that the beaches remain open while schools and small businesses have been forced to close. al, "Gulf Shores closing public beaches Friday; Baldwin officials asking governor to do the same," 19 Mar. 2020 Some central banks, including the US Federal Reserve, have responded with economic stimulus, but the Fed's surprisingly large emergency rate cut this week unnerved investors. David Goldman, CNN, "Fear grips Wall Street: Dow set to sink another 800 points," 6 Mar. 2020 Even though the disinformation campaigns largely occurred abroad, and were small scale, the revelation that Russia in particular continues to try to weaponize the social media site is likely to unnerve U.S. leaders. Washington Post, "Facebook disables new attempts by malicious Russian and Iranian actors to manipulate users," 12 Feb. 2020 Even though the disinformation campaigns largely occurred abroad, and were small scale, the revelation that Russia in particular continues to try to weaponize the social media site is likely to unnerve US leaders. Tony Romm, BostonGlobe.com, "Facebook disables malicious accounts," 12 Feb. 2020

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

17 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Unnerve.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unnerve. Accessed 30 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for unnerve


How to pronounce unnerve (audio)

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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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with unnerve

Spanish Central: Translation of unnerve

Nglish: Translation of unnerve for Spanish Speakers

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