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


demoralize, emasculate, paralyze, undo, unman, unstring



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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

More than 3,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen patrolled the city for a week, unnerving some residents while providing others a sense of safety. Pamela Wood, baltimoresun.com, "Singh, first woman to lead Maryland National Guard, to retire," 9 July 2019 At the alliance’s gathering in Potsdam in 2021 Mr Trump had unnerved fellow leaders by proposing that Russia join the alliance. The Economist, "Europe alone: July 2024," 6 July 2019 One of Reisner’s workers entered the tomb and, likely unnerved by the knee-deep water, hastily made his way to the third and final chamber. Kristin Romey, National Geographic, "Dive beneath the pyramids of Egypt’s black pharaohs," 2 July 2019 Last summer, administrators on site were unnerved one weekday afternoon when three men in an old model truck were driving slowly through the parking lot. Jose R. Gonzalez, Houston Chronicle, "Impact Church of The Woodlands members are concerned about rise of vandalism on property," 14 June 2019 The resulting political turmoil unnerved Turkey’s allies, including the Trump administration. Washington Post, "Opposition’s win in Istanbul’s do-over race for mayor hands Erdogan a decisive defeat," 25 June 2019 The burglaries unnerved the community, but police largely considered the minor thefts to be nuisance crimes. Tribune News Service, oregonlive.com, "The Man in the Window: First the burglaries; then the dogs started dying (Part Two)," 22 June 2019 Though those scenarios can also unnerve children, the experiences are usually less jarring than turning the lights off and hiding in the corner. John Woodrow Cox, The Seattle Times, "Numerous school lockdowns are traumatizing the nation’s children," 26 Dec. 2018 The crisis unnerved India, the U.S. and European countries that had begun expanding relations with Sri Lanka after Mr. Rajapaksa left office. Bill Spindle, WSJ, "Sri Lanka Political Standoff Eases After Court Rulings," 14 Dec. 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

13 Jul 2019

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

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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More from Merriam-Webster on unnerve

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with unnerve

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for unnerve

Spanish Central: Translation of unnerve

Nglish: Translation of unnerve for Spanish Speakers

Comments on unnerve

What made you want to look up unnerve? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to form ideas or theories about something

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