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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
First recorded in 1600-10; nerve + -y1
Related forms
nervily, adverb
nerviness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for nervy
Historical Examples
  • "I'm nervy, that's what it is," he went on, still speaking aloud.

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine
  • I know ye're nervy, but thar ain't no good in bein' foolish.

    Frank Merriwell Down South Burt L. Standish
  • She asked questions that might have been considered impertinent, not to say nervy.

    Gigolo Edna Ferber
  • And you know he's some nervy sport, Mr. Robert—all except when it's a matter of skirts.

    Torchy, Private Sec. Sewell Ford
  • “A fellow has to be without nerve and yet 169 nervy,” explained Larry.

    Penny of Top Hill Trail Belle Kanaris Maniates
  • Musq'oosis had to admit they were a nervy pair, though small.

    The Huntress Hulbert Footner
  • More than one acquaintance had lately told him that he was looking "nervy."

    Uncanny Tales Various
  • It was as nervy a thing as I ever seen, and I never seen it outside of a circus.

    The Motor Boys Clarence Young
  • Weve needed a couple of nervy riders like you and your pardner.

  • 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
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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