verb (used with object), un·nerved, un·nerv·ing.

to deprive of courage, strength, determination, or confidence; upset: Fear unnerved him.

Origin of unnerve

First recorded in 1595–1605; un-2 + nerve
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for unnerve

Contemporary Examples of unnerve

Historical Examples of unnerve

  • If a single scream could unnerve me that much it had to be bad.

    The Man the Martians Made

    Frank Belknap Long

  • There may be something to unnerve you, and that must not happen now.


    George Barr McCutcheon

  • Their object was, apparently, to alarm and unnerve us before they approached.

  • Nothing that could unnerve his hand or weaken his insight should enter this spot sacred to his great hope.

    Initials Only

    Anna Katharine Green

  • Tubby had not yet been informed of Rob's disappearance, as it was feared that it might unnerve him.

    The Boy Scouts On The Range

    Lieut. Howard Payson

British Dictionary definitions for unnerve



(tr) to cause to lose courage, strength, confidence, self-control, etc
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 unnerve

1620s, "to destroy the strength of," from un- (2) + nerve. Meaning "to deprive of courage" is recorded from 1704. Related: Unnerved; unnerving.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper