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.

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 unnerving

Contemporary Examples of unnerving

Historical Examples of unnerving

  • She was bracing in every nerve against the unnerving of his presence.

    The Coast of Chance

    Esther Chamberlain

  • Any known danger he could face with a firm lip, but this suspense was unnerving.

    A Study In Scarlet

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • She was conscious chiefly of an unnerving horror and a sense of contrition.

    The Long Portage

    Harold Bindloss

  • For the man had obviously been through an unnerving experience.

    A Lost Cause

    Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull

  • But she was overcome by an unnerving sense of insignificance.

British Dictionary definitions for unnerving


  1. (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 unnerving



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