a conflict using psychological techniques, as propaganda, threats, and false rumors, rather than direct violence, in order to confuse, thwart, or intimidate an enemy.
Origin of war of nerves
First recorded in 1935–40
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for war of nerves
the use of psychological tactics against an opponent, such as shattering his morale by the use of propaganda
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
Idioms and Phrases with war of nerves
A conflict characterized by psychological pressure such as threats and rumors, aiming to undermine an enemy's morale. For example, Her lawyer said the university had waged a war of nerves to persuade his client to resign. This expression alludes to tactics used in World War II. [Late 1930s]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.