un·​nerve | \ˌən-ˈnərv \
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 \ 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

Much like traditional radio dramas, there’s a distinct intimacy to the format, one that allows talented storytellers to unnerve audiences with nothing more than sound. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "10 scary podcasts to listen to in the dark," 31 Oct. 2018 But their back-channel relationship unnerved many in the Trump administration and Washington foreign policy establishment who feared that the White House was betting too big on the crown prince. Deb Riechmann, The Seattle Times, "VP Pence: Khashoggi’s death will not go without US response," 23 Oct. 2018 With that possibility looming in the distance, Scalise’s political machinations—which have reportedly unnerved McCarthy supporters—seem potentially pointless to G.O.P. operatives, who would have preferred a new Speaker sooner rather than later. Fox News Staff, Fox News, "The GOP battle for the speakership intensifies," 7 Sep. 2018 The premise was enough to unnerve even the MIT Media Lab, which cut ties with Nectome on Monday. Andy Rosen, BostonGlobe.com, "Ready to upload your brain to a computer? MIT says not so fast," 6 Apr. 2018 Over the years, some Bay Area teachers have been unnerved by the program. Karen De Sa, BostonGlobe.com, "Teens pushed to the brink at ‘leadership’ camps," 18 June 2018 As thousands of people joined the march, government officials, unnerved by the spectacle, likened the participants to terrorists. Kareem Fahim, Washington Post, "In Turkey, the opposition finally unites in bid to end Erdogan’s dominance," 14 June 2018 For those unnerved by the never-ending barrage of presidential Tweets and America’s ongoing dark night of the soul, Feiffer’s dispiriting play is a piece of theater that captures the mood of the moment. Christine Dolen, miamiherald, "'I'm Gonna Pray for You So Hard' does, sadly, reflect the dark soul of our times," 11 June 2018 In the last 10 years, while other major competitors such as Rio Tinto Group and BHP Billiton Ltd. turned away from Congo’s rich resources, unnerved by the difficulty of operating in the country, Glencore’s chief Ivan Glasenberg invested heavily. Thomas Wilson, Bloomberg.com, "Glencore Goes From Crisis to Crisis With Possible Bribery Probe," 21 May 2018

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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Statistics for unnerve

Last Updated

16 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for unnerve

The first known use of unnerve was in 1603

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More Definitions for unnerve



English Language Learners Definition of unnerve

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


un·​nerve | \ˌən-ˈnərv \
unnerved; unnerving

Kids Definition of unnerve

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

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Comments on unnerve

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