Origin of nervous

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin nervōsus sinewy, equivalent to nerv(us) nerve + -ōsus -ous
Related formsnerv·ous·ly, adverbnerv·ous·ness, nounnon·ner·vous, adjectivenon·ner·vous·ly, adverbnon·ner·vous·ness, nouno·ver·nerv·ous, adjectiveo·ver·nerv·ous·ly, adverbo·ver·nerv·ous·ness, nounsem·i·nerv·ous, adjectivesem·i·nerv·ous·ly, adverbsem·i·nerv·ous·ness, nounun·nerv·ous, adjectiveun·nerv·ous·ly, adverbun·nerv·ous·ness, noun

Synonyms for nervous

Antonyms for nervous Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for nervous

Contemporary Examples of nervous

Historical Examples of nervous

  • Hipparete blushed, and with a quick and nervous motion touched her cithara.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Don't let them see you get nervous when they turn out of the coaches.

  • It made her interlace her fingers with nervous anxiety, but it set a fire in her eyes.

  • And the sight of his white face and his nervous right hand was too much for them.

  • The girl's answer was uttered with nervous eagerness which revealed her own stress of fear.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

British Dictionary definitions for nervous



very excitable or sensitive; highly strung
(often foll by of) apprehensive or worriedI'm nervous of traffic
of, relating to, or containing nerves; neuralnervous tissue
affecting the nerves or nervous tissuea nervous disease
archaic active, vigorous, or forceful
Derived Formsnervously, adverbnervousness, 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

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

nervous in Medicine




Of or relating to the nerves or nervous system.
Stemming from or affecting the nerves or nervous system, as a disease.
Easily agitated or distressed.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.