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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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 Medvedev’s resolve, creativity, and defensive prowess evened the match at two sets all, and his high level of play briefly unnerved Nadal. Kevin Craft, The Atlantic, "Rafael Nadal Takes Another Step Toward Tennis History," 9 Sep. 2019 Dora’s habit of exhorting viewers to repeat things after her, for instance, remains intact, unnerving other characters, who aren’t aware there’s a fourth wall to break. Kristen Page-kirby, Twin Cities, "There’s no treasure to be found in the boring ‘Dora and the Lost City of Gold’," 9 Aug. 2019 The possibility that Trump would come to El Paso in wake of the tragedy unnerved some residents who said his divisive words are partly to blame. Author: Cedar Attanasio, Paul J. Weber, Morgan Lee, Anchorage Daily News, "El Paso absorbs more grief as shooting deaths climb to 22," 5 Aug. 2019 Macri’s deal with the International Monetary Fund unnerved many people who blame the IMF for encouraging policies that led to the country’s worst economic crisis in 2001. Washington Post, "AP Explains: A look at Argentine turmoil after primary vote," 12 Aug. 2019 The takeover unnerved the financial sector and sent borrowing costs in repo markets higher for smaller banks. WSJ, "Key Chinese Lending Rate Hits Lowest Since 2009," 26 June 2019 The mysterious bombings in December 1989 unnerved people about their package deliveries at Christmastime. Mark Berman, chicagotribune.com, "Alabama executes Walter Moody, the oldest inmate put to death in the modern era," 19 Apr. 2018 Roopkund’s strangeness unnerves even professionals. Kristin Romey, National Geographic, "DNA study deepens mystery of lake full of skeletons," 20 Aug. 2019 Investors were unnerved, however, by the drug’s Phase III clinical trials, in which higher doses had no additional positive effect. Ryan Derousseau, Fortune, "4 Fast-Growing Companies for Investors Hunting for Bargains," 15 Aug. 2019

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

2 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Unnerve.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unnerves. Accessed 22 November 2019.

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on unnerve

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for unnerve

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with unnerve

Spanish Central: Translation of unnerve

Nglish: Translation of unnerve for Spanish Speakers

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not agreeing with established beliefs

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