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See more synonyms for nervous on Thesaurus.com
  1. highly excitable; unnaturally or acutely uneasy or apprehensive: to become nervous under stress.
  2. of or relating to the nerves: nervous tension.
  3. affecting the nerves: nervous diseases.
  4. suffering from, characterized by, or originating in disordered nerves.
  5. characterized by or attended with acute uneasiness or apprehension: a nervous moment for us all.
  6. having or containing nerves.
  7. sinewy or strong.
  8. Archaic. vigorous or spirited.
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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


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for nervously

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Then as the two became accustomed to the light, I saw what I had nervously expected.

  • Evelyn spoke quickly and nervously, and with quivering lips.

  • Molly nervously joined her, and addressed her, once or twice, in a whisper.

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown

  • Relieved of this weight, Little Dorrit was nervously anxious to be gone.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • Her hands were then nervously clasping together, but he took one of them.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

British Dictionary definitions for nervously


  1. very excitable or sensitive; highly strung
  2. (often foll by of) apprehensive or worriedI'm nervous of traffic
  3. of, relating to, or containing nerves; neuralnervous tissue
  4. affecting the nerves or nervous tissuea nervous disease
  5. archaic active, vigorous, or forceful
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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 nervously



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

nervously in Medicine


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