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[nur-vee] /ˈnɜr vi/
adjective, nervier, nerviest.
brashly presumptuous or insolent; pushy:
a nervy thing to say; a nervy trick to pull.
having or showing courage; brave or bold:
the nervy feats of the mountaineers.
strong; sinewy; vigorous:
a hard, nervy physique.
Chiefly British. straining one's patience or forbearance; trying.
nervous; excitable; on edge.
Origin of nervy
1600-10; nerve + -y1
Related forms
nervily, adverb
nerviness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for nervy
Historical Examples
  • His slack, nervy figure needed but a word to make it taut as steel.

    Barbara Lynn Emily J. Jenkinson
  • I know ye're nervy, but thar ain't no good in bein' foolish.

    Frank Merriwell Down South Burt L. Standish
  • He was one of the gregarious sort, a loud talker, nervy really, very familiar with all the passengers.

    Sea and Sardinia D. H. Lawrence
  • And you know he's some nervy sport, Mr. Robert—all except when it's a matter of skirts.

    Torchy, Private Sec. Sewell Ford
  • Henrietta stooped to pick up the seal, which had fallen; she balanced it on the tip of her finger—the nervy Titan queen!

  • Weve needed a couple of nervy riders like you and your pardner.

  • Darry, you nervy little rascal, waltz in and put that other eye up in black clothes!

  • Say, girls, did you ever hear of anything so nervy as Nita's going off like that?

    The Woodcraft Girls at Camp Lillian Elizabeth Roy
  • The nervy boy had been tempted to abandon the wagon and follow the light, but his second judgment was against this.

    The Air Ship Boys H.L. Sayler
  • It was a nervy thing for anyone to do, to come in here and carry off our chair.

    The Winning Touchdown Lester Chadwick
British Dictionary definitions for nervy


adjective nervier, nerviest
(Brit, informal) tense or apprehensive
having or needing bravery or endurance
(US & Canadian, informal) brash or cheeky
(archaic) muscular; sinewy
Derived Forms
nervily, adverb
nerviness, 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 nervy

"full of courage," 1870, from nerve + -y (2). Sense of "excitable" is from 1891.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for nervy



  1. Nervous; jumpy (1891+)
  2. Impudent; bold (1896+)
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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