View synonyms for nerve


[ nurv ]


  1. one or more bundles of fibers forming part of a system that conveys impulses of sensation, motion, etc., between the brain or spinal cord and other parts of the body.
  2. a sinew or tendon:

    to strain every nerve.

  3. firmness or courage under trying circumstances:

    an assignment requiring nerve;

    to lose your nerve at the very last moment.

    Synonyms: intrepidity, steadfastness, resolution, fortitude

  4. He had the nerve to say that?

  5. nerves, nervousness:

    an attack of nerves.

  6. strength, vigor, or energy:

    a test of nerve and stamina.

    Synonyms: might, force, power

    Antonyms: weakness

  7. (not in technical use) pulp tissue of a tooth.
  8. Botany. a vein, as in a leaf.
  9. a line, or one of a system of lines, extending across something.

verb (used with object)

, nerved, nerv·ing.
  1. to give strength, vigor, or courage to:

    Encouragement had nerved him for the struggle.

    Synonyms: brace, steel, invigorate, fortify, strengthen

    Antonyms: weaken


/ nɜːv /


  1. any of the cordlike bundles of fibres that conduct sensory or motor impulses between the brain or spinal cord and another part of the body neural
  2. courage, bravery, or steadfastness
  3. lose one's nerve
    to become timid, esp failing to perform some audacious act
  4. informal.
    boldness or effrontery; impudence

    he had the nerve to swear at me

  5. muscle or sinew (often in the phrase strain every nerve )
  6. a large vein in a leaf
  7. any of the veins of an insect's wing
  8. touch a nerve or touch a raw nerve or hit a nerve or hit a raw nerve or strike a nerve or strike a raw nerve
    to mention or bring to mind a sensitive issue or subject
“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


  1. to give courage to (oneself); steel (oneself)
  2. to provide with nerve or nerves
“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


/ nûrv /

  1. Any of the bundles of fibers made up of neurons that carry sensory and motor information throughout the body in the form of electrical impulses. Afferent nerves carry information to the central nervous system, and efferent nerves carry information from the central nervous system to the muscles, organs, and glands. Efferent nerves include the nerves of the peripheral nervous system, which control voluntary motor activity and of the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary motor activity.


  1. A bundle of fibers composed of neurons that connects the body parts and organs to the central nervous system and carries impulses from one part of the body to another.

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Word History and Origins

Origin of nerve1

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English: “nerve, tendon,” from Latin nervus “sinew, tendon”; akin to Greek neûron ( neuron ); replacing Middle English nerf, from Middle French, from Latin, as above
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Word History and Origins

Origin of nerve1

C16: from Latin nervus; related to Greek neuron; compare Sanskrit snāvan sinew
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Idioms and Phrases

  1. get on one's nerves, to irritate, annoy, or provoke one:

    Boisterous children get on my nerves.

  2. have nerves of steel, to be able to control one’s fear or unease and remain calm and competent, even in the worst of circumstances:

    I thought I had nerves of steel, but when we had to dissect a pig, I turned into a jellyfish.

  3. bundle of nerves. bundle of nerves ( def ).

More idioms and phrases containing nerve

see bundle of nerves ; get on someone's nerves ; get up (one's nerve) ; have a nerve ; lose one's nerve ; of all the nerve ; war of nerves .
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Example Sentences

For example, a 2017 study demonstrated that nerve signals could be used for precise control of prosthetic limbs.

From Fortune

For example, at least half a dozen studies have found that stimulating the limb area acupoint can suppress systemic inflammation, partially through the vagus nerve.

From remembering facts or conversations to improving musical or athletic skills, learning alters connections between nerve cells called synapses.

The toxin, known by the initials TTX, stops nerve cells from sending signals that tell muscles to move.

Contradictory evidence means that no one knows whether SARS-CoV-2 can infect nerve cells in the brain directly, and if so, whether the virus’s route to the brain can sometimes start in the nose.

Few have the nerve to call him and he's usually pleased when an old friend does.

Then he lost his nerve and decided to live after all, and I called for help.

“But bringing it to New York was a bit nerve-wracking,” he admits.

For anyone—not just a fan—the first time performing on camera can be nerve wracking.

She was a perky redhead of about 30 with lively blue eyes, a petite figure, and lots of nerve.

It was Carmena, every nerve of her loyal nature on the alert to baffle this pursuer of Alessandro and Ramona.

To add point to this success, he knew that the victor of Montebello was straining every nerve to gain this very prize.

I hadn't the nerve to stand there and tell her she'd never see her father again this side of the pearly gates.

It was a hair-raising problem, too, and called for every ounce of nerve and every particle of skill the boy possessed.

This time it was really Mr. Bills, and Mrs. Biggs went out to meet him, while Eloise felt every nerve quiver with dread.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




nervationnerve block