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

  • "I'm nervy, that's what it is," he went on, still speaking aloud.

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine

  • I know ye're nervy, but thar ain't no good in bein' foolish.

  • She asked questions that might have been considered impertinent, not to say nervy.


    Edna Ferber

  • And you know he's some nervy sport, Mr. Robert—all except when it's a matter of skirts.

  • “A fellow has to be without nerve and yet 169 nervy,” explained Larry.

    Penny of Top Hill Trail

    Belle Kanaris Maniates

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