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See more synonyms for unnerve on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object), un·nerved, un·nerv·ing.
  1. to deprive of courage, strength, determination, or confidence; upset: Fear unnerved him.
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Origin of unnerve

First recorded in 1595–1605; un-2 + nerve
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for unnerved

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The truth was, he admitted ruefully to himself, they unnerved him.

    The Market-Place

    Harold Frederic

  • She has had a very trying and terrible experience and I do not wonder that she is unnerved.

    The Ivory Snuff Box

    Arnold Fredericks

  • He did not look in the least unnerved by the terrible ordeal.

  • "It was that madman rushing in unnerved her," Copplestone cried fiercely.

    The Crooked House

    Brandon Fleming

  • But the glassy stare of the motionless figure had unnerved her.

    The Crooked House

    Brandon Fleming

British Dictionary definitions for unnerved


  1. (tr) to cause to lose courage, strength, confidence, self-control, etc
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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 unnerved



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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper