[noo-suh ns, nyoo-]
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  1. an obnoxious or annoying person, thing, condition, practice, etc.: a monthly meeting that was more nuisance than pleasure.
  2. Law. something offensive or annoying to individuals or to the community, especially in violation of their legal rights.

Origin of nuisance

1375–1425; late Middle English nu(i)sa(u)nce < Anglo-French, equivalent to nuis(er) to harm (≪ Latin nocēre) + -ance -ance Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for nuisance


    1. a person or thing that causes annoyance or bother
    2. (as modifier)nuisance calls
  1. law something unauthorized that is obnoxious or injurious to the community at large (public nuisance) or to an individual, esp in relation to his ownership or occupation of property (private nuisance)
  2. nuisance value the usefulness of a person's or thing's capacity to cause difficulties or irritation

Word Origin for nuisance

C15: via Old French from nuire to injure, from Latin nocēre
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 nuisance

c.1400, "injury, hurt, harm," from Anglo-French nusaunce, Old French nuisance "harm, wrong, damage," from past participle stem of nuire "to harm," from Latin nocere "to hurt" (see noxious). Sense has softened over time, to "anything obnoxious to a community" (bad smells, pests, eyesores), 1660s, then "source of annoyance, something personally disagreeable" (1831). Applied to persons from 1690s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with nuisance


see make a nuisance of oneself.

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