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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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 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 The positive test didn’t really unnerve Ahlee Lewis, a college basketball player at UC Davis in the 1980s, but what happened to Keyontae Johnson did. Ron Kroichick, SFChronicle.com, "Oakland’s Jalen Lewis, top 2023 basketball recruit, got coronavirus at Arizona tournament," 23 Dec. 2020 When Molly moves into her new apartment after a tragic accident, a strange noise from upstairs begins to unnerve her. Los Angeles Times Staff, Los Angeles Times, "Here’s what’s screening at the Sundance Film Festival 2021," 15 Dec. 2020 When Molly moves into her new apartment after a tragic accident, a strange noise from upstairs begins to unnerve her. Mary Sollosi, EW.com, "Sundance Film Festival announces lineup for 2021 digital fest, including starry directorial debuts," 15 Dec. 2020 Along with that up-is-down and vice-versa theme in 2020 comes a reality that may unnerve fans who like to tout East Division supremacy. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "The Big Ten West is better than the East in 2020, but can it stay there? College Football Monday Madness," 16 Nov. 2020 His moderate politics and establishment bonafides will reassure some jittery allies, but unnerve others. Washington Post, "Trump’s defeat is a blow for the world’s demagogues and dictators," 10 Nov. 2020 The unrest and the authorities’ increasingly heavy-handed response has begun to unnerve financial markets, with the naira dropping as much as 1.2% against the dollar on Thursday, the most of any African currency. William Clowes, Bloomberg.com, "Buhari Readies New Plans to Appease Nigerian Protesters," 22 Oct. 2020 And even if Britain succeeds in signing up more countries to free trade deals, violating international law could unnerve foreign investors who are looking for a predictable business environment. Charles Riley, CNN, "Britain is risking a car-crash Brexit of food shortages, another recession and isolation," 12 Sep. 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

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Unnerve.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unnerve. Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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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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Nglish: Translation of unnerve for Spanish Speakers

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