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.
  4. boldness; audacity; impudence; impertinence: 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.
  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.
  1. get on one's nerves, to irritate, annoy, or provoke one: Boisterous children get on my nerves.

Origin of nerve

1350–1400; Middle English: nerve, tendon < Latin nervus sinew, tendon; akin to Greek neûron (see neuron); replacing Middle English nerf < Middle French < Latin, as above

Synonyms for nerve

Antonyms for nerve

6. weakness. 10. weaken. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for nerving

Contemporary Examples of nerving

  • For my sake turn again to life and smile, nerving thy heart and trembling hand to do something to comfort other hearts than thine.

Historical Examples of nerving

  • Richard came forward, nerving himself for what was to follow.

    Mistress Wilding

    Rafael Sabatini

  • But for the moment the discovery, instead of nerving him, inflamed his wrath.

    Major Vigoureux

    A. T. Quiller-Couch

  • Wolf-hunter was now in his glory, nerving his muscular frame for battle.

    The Forest King

    Hervey Keyes

  • It was now a week to the wedding-day, and Charlotte was nerving herself for an effort.

  • I saw that he was nerving himself for another scène à faire.

    On the Stairs

    Henry B. Fuller

British Dictionary definitions for nerving


  1. vet science surgical removal of part of a nerve trunk, or the use of chemicals to block the nerve supply, to relieve pain; usually adminstered because of chronic and disabling inflammation


  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 bodyRelated adjective: 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; impudencehe 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, touch a raw nerve, hit a nerve, hit a raw nerve, strike a nerve or strike a raw nerve to mention or bring to mind a sensitive issue or subject
verb (tr)
  1. to give courage to (oneself); steel (oneself)
  2. to provide with nerve or nerves
See also nerves

Word Origin for nerve

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

Word Origin and History for nerving



c.1500, "to ornament with threads;" see nerve (n.). Meaning "to give strength or vigor" is from 1749. Related: Nerved; nerving.



late 14c., nerf "sinew, tendon," from Old French nerf and directly from Medieval Latin nervus "nerve," from Latin nervus "sinew, tendon; cord, bowstring," metathesis of pre-Latin *neuros, from PIE *(s)neu- "tendon, sinew" (cf. Sanskrit snavan- "band, sinew," Armenian neard "sinew," Greek neuron "sinew, tendon," in Galen "nerve"). Sense of "fibers that convey impulses between the brain and the body" is from c.1600.

Secondary senses developed from meaning "strength, vigor, energy" (c.1600), from the "sinew" sense. Hence figurative sense of "feeling, courage," first attested c.1600; that of "courage, boldness" is from 1809; bad sense "impudence, cheek" is from 1887. Latin nervus also had a figurative sense of "vigor, force, power, strength," as did Greek neuron. From the neurological sense come Nerves "condition of nervousness," attested from 1792; to get on someone's nerves, from 1895. War of nerves "psychological warfare" is from 1915.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

nerving in Medicine


  1. Any of the cordlike bundles of nervous tissue made up of myelinated or unmyelinated nerve fibers and held together by a connective tissue sheath through which sensory stimuli and motor impulses pass between the brain or other parts of the central nervous system and the eyes, glands, muscles, and other parts of the body.
  2. The sensitive tissue in the pulp of a tooth.
  3. nerves Nervous agitation caused by fear, anxiety, or stress.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

nerving in Science


  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.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

nerving in Culture


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.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with nerving


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.

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