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[nur-vuh s] /ˈnɜr vəs/
highly excitable; unnaturally or acutely uneasy or apprehensive:
to become nervous under stress.
of or relating to the nerves:
nervous tension.
affecting the nerves:
nervous diseases.
suffering from, characterized by, or originating in disordered nerves.
characterized by or attended with acute uneasiness or apprehension:
a nervous moment for us all.
having or containing nerves.
sinewy or strong.
Archaic. vigorous or spirited.
Origin of nervous
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin nervōsus sinewy, equivalent to nerv(us) nerve + -ōsus -ous
Related forms
nervously, adverb
nervousness, noun
nonnervous, adjective
nonnervously, adverb
nonnervousness, noun
overnervous, adjective
overnervously, adverb
overnervousness, noun
seminervous, adjective
seminervously, adverb
seminervousness, noun
unnervous, adjective
unnervously, adverb
unnervousness, noun
1. fearful, timid, timorous.
1. confident, bold. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for nervous
  • The central nervous system is comprised of the brain and spinal cord.
  • The declining numbers and the possibility of infusion makes me nervous.
  • As a writer you sometimes get nervous that you've let your commitment to a story run away with your judgment.
  • Although she was nervous about what the publisher would think, she doesn't have any qualms about kids' reactions.
  • Given that the winners were announced far ahead of the event, the honorees were more happy than nervous on the red carpet.
  • He actually looked nervous.
  • Shaking and being nervous do not necessarily lead to failure.
  • Even if you're nervous, look them in the eye.
  • I'm getting nervous.
  • The blue mountains looming to the south had the team nervous.
British Dictionary definitions for nervous


very excitable or sensitive; highly strung
(often foll by of) apprehensive or worried: I'm nervous of traffic
of, relating to, or containing nerves; neural: nervous tissue
affecting the nerves or nervous tissue: a nervous disease
(archaic) active, vigorous, or forceful
Derived Forms
nervously, adverb
nervousness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for nervous

c.1400, "affecting the sinews," from Latin nervosus "sinewy, vigorous," from nervus "sinew, nerve" (see nerve). Meaning "of or belonging to the nerves" in the modern sense is from 1660s. Meaning "suffering disorder of the nervous system" is from 1734; illogical sense "restless, agitated, lacking nerve" is 1740. Widespread popular use as a euphemism for mental forced the medical community to coin neurological to replace it in the older sense. Nervous wreck first attested 1862. Related: Nervously; nervousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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nervous in Medicine

nervous nerv·ous (nûr'vəs)

  1. Of or relating to the nerves or nervous system.

  2. Stemming from or affecting the nerves or nervous system, as a disease.

  3. Easily agitated or distressed.

nerv'ous·ness n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for nervous


  1. cool, far out
  2. jazzy (1950s+ Beat & cool talk)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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