adjective, nerv·i·er, nerv·i·est.

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 formsnerv·i·ly, adverbnerv·i·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for nervy

Historical Examples of nervy

  • This always made the Turks nervy, and their trenches would be manned and every individual would blaze away for all he was worth.

    With the Judans in the Palestine Campaign

    J. H. (John Henry) Patterson

  • Not too much of it, or the Turk will think we're nervy, and begin to suspect—not too little, or he'll wonder if we're moving.

    Tell England

    Ernest Raymond

  • I wish good old-fashioned bad temper was still the word for highly strung and nervy people.

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

    The Motor Boys

    Clarence Young

  • Close behind me came the cattleman, the kind of cool, nervy Texan I liked.

British Dictionary definitions for nervy


adjective nervier or nerviest

British informal tense or apprehensive
having or needing bravery or endurance
US and Canadian informal brash or cheeky
archaic muscular; sinewy
Derived Formsnervily, adverbnerviness, 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 nervy

"full of courage," 1870, from nerve + -y (2). Sense of "excitable" is from 1891.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper