Definition of nerve in English:

nerve

noun

  • 1A whitish fibre or bundle of fibres in the body that transmits impulses of sensation to the brain or spinal cord, and impulses from these to the muscles and organs.

    ‘the optic nerve’
    • ‘MRI may be used to make images of every part of the body, including the bones, joints, blood vessels, nerves, muscles and organs.’
    • ‘The spinal cord threads through the centre of each vertebra, carrying nerves from the brain to the rest of the body.’
    • ‘Internally, there are muscles, nerves, and connective tissues.’
    • ‘The peripheral nervous system includes cranial and peripheral nerves and associated ganglia.’
    • ‘Mind and body is connected through nerves, muscle and bone.’
    • ‘There is an initial multiplication of the virus in the local musculature and spread via motor or sensory nerves to the spinal cord and brain.’
    • ‘Tetanus, also known as lockjaw, is a serious but preventable disease that affects the body's muscles and nerves.’
    • ‘Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative nerve disease that damages the protective fatty sheath around nerves in the brain and spinal cord.’
    • ‘The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body.’
    • ‘As a result of these changes, the spinal canal may narrow and compress the spinal cord and nerves to the arms.’
    • ‘MS is a chronic, progressive neurological disease that involves the loss of myelin from nerves in the brain and spinal cord.’
    • ‘Heat on the skin, for example, results in chemical and electrical signals being sent through peripheral sensory nerves to the dorsal horn of the spinal cord.’
    • ‘Your spinal cord runs down through your vertebrae, and nerves pass through gaps in the spinal column.’
    • ‘With this singular exception, the sensory or dorsal root of spinal nerves is always larger than the motor or ventral root.’
    • ‘Our skin protects the network of muscles, bones, nerves, blood vessels, and everything else inside our bodies.’
    • ‘At each level of the spine, main nerves join the spinal cord from specific parts of the body.’
    • ‘The axons of both classes of interneuron enter the brain via the ocellar nerve, which also carries the axons of efferent neurons.’
    • ‘Once you're infected, the virus spreads from your muscle to your peripheral nerves to your spinal cord and brain.’
    • ‘Paired nerves from the brain and ganglia innervate the body.’
    • ‘The sensory nerve, arising from the branches of the superior laryngeal nerve, innervates the mucous membrane of the larynx.’
    nerve fibre
    View synonyms
  • 2One's steadiness and courage in a demanding situation.

    ‘an amazing journey which tested her nerves to the full’
    ‘he kept his nerve and won five games in a row’
    • ‘He says he chose Shakespeare's earliest comedy because ‘you slightly lose your nerve with Shakespeare’ in such a hiatus.’
    • ‘People lose their nerve in the middle of a sentence and walk off muttering, they sit and brood by themselves, and best yet, all the time, people are getting stupid drunk.’
    • ‘And the youngster kept his nerve to strike two more penalties, which sealed the fate of the by now hard-pressed Castlemen.’
    • ‘Though things were desperate at this stage with David unable to get his grandfather up from the floor, he kept his nerve.’
    • ‘It was a tense last few moments but Rovers kept their nerve.’
    • ‘The only way America can lose, in this view, is if we lose our nerve.’
    • ‘In his 46th consecutive season of racing, Smith's performance was a tribute to how well he has maintained his physical skills and kept his nerve.’
    • ‘Well, the immaculately turned-up students and executives of the hospitality industry kept their nerve.’
    • ‘But it's so easy to lose your nerve and your voice to the people who are shouting the loudest, even if you know in your heart what they are shouting is garbage.’
    • ‘I am going to take Millie, unless I lose my nerve.’
    • ‘As the difference between humans and robots dissolves, do not succumb to paranoia, do not lose your nerve.’
    • ‘But if we lose our nerve now, it may take centuries to recover the resolve to assert law over violence.’
    • ‘Sean Kavanagh, having been quite for long periods, came good in the closing minutes and kept his nerve to kick the levelling point.’
    • ‘So at this precise moment where others would lose their nerve, bottle and audience, he did what separates mere amateurs from The Greats like himself.’
    • ‘Silence roared between them until he finally got up the nerve.’
    • ‘Kevin got up the nerve to ask Terry for her home number.’
    • ‘But he kept his nerve, geed up the bus system and forced it through at a time when he was politically vulnerable before the mayoral elections.’
    • ‘While the 34-year-old golf unknown kept his nerve on a tough final day at Rochester, the shakers and movers of world golf crumbled behind him.’
    • ‘After all, if I lose my nerve so early in the game, just imagine what they'll say back at the paint factory.’
    • ‘He has kept his nerve and picked a difficult policy area - you could say the most difficult for a modern Labor leader - in which to take on the government.’
    self-confidence, confidence, assurance, self-assurance, coolness, cool-headedness, self-possession
    View synonyms
  • 3Feelings of nervousness.

    ‘his first-night nerves soon disappeared’
    • ‘There were perhaps inevitably some first-night nerves last night, but these were overcome by an excellent display of team spirit.’
    • ‘Medicated for her nerves, she shakes as she recounts violent attacks she suffered at the hands of the man who once vowed to love, honour and cherish her forever.’
    • ‘My stomach was dancing in nervousness; my nerves tense and wrought.’
    • ‘The same nerves and tingles that I would get before a game when I was young made me nervous now those same nerves make me excited.’
    • ‘Although only three points short of their 40-point safety target with seven games to play, they are anxious to settle their nerves as quickly as possible.’
    • ‘It is rare, if now surreal, for a reviewer to suffer first night nerves but that was the case for yours truly on Monday night.’
    • ‘I don't normally get stage fright or nerves before a performance but today I'm like a child on Christmas Eve.’
    • ‘When we would do a show we worked so hard together and went through everything together including the first night nerves and the elation when everything went right.’
    • ‘I don't know about nerves and tension but we were low before the game, we've been low all week but it wasn't all negative - we were positive about winning the game.’
    • ‘Waiting to bat in a dressing-room taut with silence, he shook with nerves, but once out in the middle things seemed clearer: 18 to win and four wickets left.’
    • ‘A touch of first night nerves hit the more experienced actors hardest, as one might expect but no doubt they disappeared as the week progressed.’
    • ‘First-night nerves aside, what she fears most is being left alone… without her Tim.’
    • ‘He was visibly, rather endearingly, anxious, shaking with nerves at some points; she kept erupting into fits of maniacal chuckles at some secret joke.’
    • ‘But this may have been an attack of literary nerves because he feared the poem would not be taken seriously unless it appeared to hang together as a coherent whole.’
    • ‘His voice was formal yet kind with a hint of nerves, for nervous he was.’
    • ‘I think live radio is a permanent state (damn, here's a taxi bearing down on me) of first-night nerves.’
    • ‘It is a punishing consequence of their defeat by Greece on the opening day, when their problems were first-night nerves and a lack of competitive-match practice.’
    • ‘He added that a slow striptease over the rehearsal months would help quash first-night nerves.’
    • ‘But her nerves soon turned to relief when she learnt she had scored four As.’
    • ‘Perhaps that explained her nerves: Claire were nervous that she may have to give some sort of speech.’
    anxiety, tension, nervousness, nervous tension, strain, tenseness, stress, worry, cold feet
    View synonyms
  • 4informal [mass noun] Impudence or audacity.

    ‘he had the nerve to insult my cooking’
    [in singular] ‘she's got a nerve wearing that short skirt with those legs’
    • ‘Then she had the nerve to call my dreadlocks cute.’
    • ‘But the stupid man had the nerve to tell Bel something equally disgusting upon hearing that Bel was her husband.’
    • ‘Today very nearly featured a mercy mission to the local hospital, until the patient in question had the nerve to be discharged before Lisa and I could turn up with the grapes.’
    • ‘Then he had the nerve to start hovering around the turntables.’
    • ‘And then they had the nerve to get snarky with me when I said they damn well better not.’
    • ‘All sights, all things which are Lhasa's own beauty and peculiarity, would have to be seen by the lone woman explorer who had had the nerve to come to them from afar, the first of her sex.’
    • ‘Yes, he actually said ‘disassemble’ - and then had the nerve to be snotty about it and define it.’
    • ‘I'm glad someone had the nerve to write what they really think.’
    • ‘In any case, I figure he is due the embarrassment given that he had the nerve to compare my beloved Moleskine to his dollar-notebook.’
    • ‘Three years back, I wouldn't have had the nerve to kneel down in public and feed a stray cat by myself, while people edged around me.’
    • ‘‘She had the nerve to lecture me about morals on the programme and now look at her,’ she said.’
    • ‘We then made our way inside, where we were abused by the receptionist, who clearly wasn't happy that we didn't have a degree in bingo procedure and had the nerve to ask her what to do.’
    • ‘Most readers will probably think me petty and wonder at how I have had the nerve to bring my personal grievances into the world of scholarly discourse, and yet all of this is very much to the point.’
    • ‘Someone even had the nerve to ask me why I did what I did that morning, suggesting there was something odd or wrong in my daringly unconventional and intensely original appearance.’
    • ‘One of them had the nerve to tell me that the election was too close.’
    • ‘She actually had the nerve to be sarcastic with me this morning, which meant I said goodbye immediately to ms-nice-woman personality.’
    • ‘I haven't had the nerve to tell her I'm also crushing on him.’
    • ‘I am so angry they even had the nerve to appeal in the first place.’
    • ‘I only wish I had the nerve to try some of the more hair-raising pastimes enjoyed by some of our older citizens, but am far too much of a coward and layabout!’
    • ‘He, that horrible horrible man, had the nerve to nuzzle her neck!’
    audacity, cheek, barefaced cheek, effrontery, gall, temerity, presumption, presumptuousness, boldness, brazenness, impudence, impertinence, insolence, pertness, forwardness, front, arrogance, cockiness
    View synonyms
  • 5Botany
    A prominent unbranched rib in a leaf, especially in the midrib of the leaf of a moss.

verb

  • Brace oneself mentally to face a demanding situation.

    ‘she nerved herself to enter the room’
    • ‘But after I'd dragged myself out of bed this afternoon and nerved myself to replay what I somehow knew was bound to be bad news, I pressed the button and heard.’
    • ‘They flinch at the sound of that laugh, but they keep edging forward, nerving themselves for the final rush.’
    • ‘I nerved myself and glanced down at the knife through my leg.’
    • ‘Why, to nerve herself for an adulterous affair, does she reread The Red and the Black in English?’
    • ‘Again she nerved herself to search him over, hoping to and finding his I.D. tag.’
    • ‘We just have to nerve ourselves up, overcome the surprising yet overwhelming craving for some beta-blockers and a Marlboro Red, and do the best we can.’
    • ‘Then Eder, a brilliant forward with a reputation for fierce shooting, ran at goalkeeper Alan Rough, who nerved himself to deal with a powerful shot.’
    • ‘I was a little alarmed by her at first, but later nerved myself to argue with her.’
    • ‘I nerve myself to pursue this contradiction anyway.’
    • ‘Soon this chaos will become the magazine, and to nerve myself up, I'm sipping a take-out coffee.’
    • ‘Now nerve yourself for the revelations in his latest diary.’
    • ‘I concentrated on an image of Autumn's exquisite, frightened visage, nerving myself.’
    • ‘She developed a particular interest in helping to update the Internet pages and she seemed to be nerving herself to buy her first computer so that she could get on the Internet at home.’
    brace oneself, steel oneself, gather muster one's courage, gather up one's courage, screw muster one's courage, screw up one's courage, summon muster one's courage, summon up one's courage, screw one's courage to the sticking place, gear oneself up, prepare oneself, get in the right frame of mind
    fortify oneself, bolster oneself
    psych oneself up
    gird one's loins, gird up one's loins
    View synonyms

Phrases

  • a bag (or bundle) of nerves

    • see nerve
      • ‘Saturday was the day of brother Kev's big gig, and consequently I was a bundle of nerves.’
      • ‘She had wanted to work with the director, she says, ‘come hell or high water ‘, to the extent that she was a bundle of nerves when it came to her audition.’’
      • ‘I was just timid in general when it came to people I didn't know very well, but… adults especially had the power to turn me into a quivering bundle of nerves.’
      • ‘Mr Quinn said he was a bundle of nerves when he turned up for the first day of filming in July.’
      • ‘‘We're all a bundle of nerves but this is an incredible opportunity and one which we are honored to embrace,’ she told Armed Forces Entertainment, who organized the tour.’
      • ‘Lapentti was a distracted bundle of nerves for most of his match against Rusedski and was often the man at fault in yesterday's doubles, despite his younger brother's brave efforts to restore some family pride.’
      • ‘When I got home that night, I was a bundle of nerves.’
      • ‘He was a bundle of nerves, but that was to be expected.’
      • ‘He is certainly composed but beneath the mask of elegant good manners the man is a bundle of nerves.’
      • ‘The Portuguese fans were a bundle of nerves, out-shouted by their hordes from Athens and the isles.’
      • ‘I was a bundle of nerves throughout Friday, not because I doubted the Bulldogs' ability to pull off the win, but because as a player you are so focused on all aspects of your game preparation that nerves are only a periphery phenomenon.’
      • ‘It began with Henman announcing, as boldly as any bundle of nerves can, that he would win Wimbledon.’
      • ‘As for my experience, I am always a bundle of nerves before I hit the stage at the Bowl, and once I step out and feel the energy, I'm ignited.’
      • ‘Amateur musicians often make such disclaimers before playing a recital-performers are usually a bundle of nerves, fidgets, and incessant motion.’
      • ‘On Wednesday night, Lily was a bundle of nerves.’
      • ‘Mr. Thomas cleared his throat, ‘Speaking of Faith, Josh shouldn't keep her waiting, she is probably a bundle of nerves as it is.’’
      • ‘If it hadn't been for Sara's history and her familiarity with being stared at and summed up by similar measuring glances, she would have been a bundle of nerves in the first few minutes.’
      • ‘I well remember the intense security arrangements, being told exactly what would happen, where and when, and being quite a bundle of nerves!’
      • ‘And yet the touch on my wrist meant he still thought I was a quaking bundle of nerves beneath the irrefutable points I'd been making against him.’
      • ‘‘For not being nervous you sure are a bundle of nerves,’ Nathan teased before he walked to the back of the church to join Marie who was trying to calm Lisa.’
    • Someone who is extremely anxious or tense.

      ‘when her relationship started getting serious, she became a bag of nerves’
      • ‘The character on bass, who I believe is Eric Melvin from NOFX, makes a fine MC, nicely managing the exits and entrances of various drunkards, narcissists, and bags of nerves.’
      • ‘I think it's odd how a succession of good, competent defenders have turned into bags of nerves who make mistakes within a month of playing next to Bramble.’
  • get on someone's nerves

    • informal Irritate someone.

      • ‘It just had trouble with some websites, and that got on my nerves.’
      • ‘‘Smash the place up’, they suggested, when the lighting and the wooden fittings got on their nerves.’
      • ‘This boyfriend's clothes get on your nerves because you have to find something safe to be irritated by, rather than him in general.’
      • ‘The wind howling was really getting on her nerves, and if she didn't drown it out soon, she was going to start yelling at it.’
      • ‘This went well for a while, but eventually the accents of the invaders just really got on their nerves and they were asked to leave.’
      • ‘And the strange camera angles they used to make the hobbits look smaller than everyone else really got on my nerves.’
      • ‘They used to run a really annoying ad for a German beer all the time during the Tour de France 6 or 7 years back that got on my nerves but at least it wasn't on my dime.’
      • ‘Fair enough, she has good cause, but it really got on my nerves after a while.’
      • ‘Totally devoid of any natural or scenic beauty, this sleepy town got on my nerves.’
      • ‘If I had my way, there really would be no problem with cuffing these kids round the ear if they got on your nerves.’
      irritate, annoy, irk, anger, bother, vex, provoke, displease, upset, exasperate, infuriate, gall, get someone's back up, put someone's back up, put out, pique, rankle with, nettle, needle, ruffle someone's feathers, stroke someone's hair the wrong way, make someone's hackles rise, try someone's patience
      jar on, grate on
      rub up the wrong way
      aggravate, get, get to, bug, miff, peeve, rile, get under someone's skin, get in someone's hair, get up someone's nose, hack off, get someone's goat
      nark, get on someone's wick, give someone the hump, wind up, get across
      rankle, ride, gravel
      piss off
      get on someone's tits
      exacerbate, hump, rasp
      View synonyms
  • have nerves of steel

    • Not be easily upset or frightened.

      • ‘I have nerves of steel and the flinty-eyed steadiness of a hit man; in general, but particularly in corner shops in Peckham.’
      • ‘They play with tremendous heart, have nerves of steel and show the composure of teams of more maturity.’
      • ‘Investors in companies involved in digital music technology need to have nerves of steel as share prices are notoriously volatile, according to analysts.’
      • ‘Say whatever you want about Russia, but their scientists have nerves of steel.’
      • ‘Of course, I might also add that M.L. has nerves of steel and may be the calmest human in a crisis I've ever known.’
      • ‘You also have to have nerves of steel as you're followed about the shop floor by posses of devilishly stylish assistants who look as thought they could moonlight as supermodels; they have enough attitude to reduce the timid to tears.’
      • ‘In fact you have to have nerves of steel at times to live here at all.’
      • ‘This might deter some golfers but not Nora who has nerves of steel when it comes to getting the birdies and pars.’
      • ‘You must have nerves of steel to be a Great Britain supporter, because the team will put you through an emotional rollercoaster.’
      • ‘Prices are getting out of hand, and if you want to do business, you must have nerves of steel.’
  • live on one's nerves (or one's nerve ends)

    • Be extremely anxious or tense.

      ‘a frenetic match which had 24,500 fans living on their nerve ends’
      • ‘And millions live on their nerves, fearing the awful consequences any rise in interest rates could have on them and their families.’
      • ‘I live on my nerves and I am also a complete insomniac - I can be up all night.’
      • ‘Mayo were certainly living on their nerves in those last few seconds and the sounding of the final whistle must have been sweet music to the ears of everybody at the game with Mayo blood racing through their veins.’
      • ‘But he also gives an insight into the thrill of living on your nerves, often literally running for your life, with the almost constant adrenalin rush of chasing a story.’
      • ‘So what if they were living on their nerves for the second half?’
      • ‘UK workers are nearly as stress free as we are apparently, but the Greeks and the Italians are living on their nerves.’
      • ‘Two late points from the midlanders left Mayo living on their nerves as wave after wave of maroon warriors raced forward looking for the equalising goal but it wasn't to be.’
      • ‘But Liverpool still lived on their nerves, trying to snatch a decisive breakaway goal while being subjected to far more pressure than they can have expected at half-time.’
      • ‘City could only live on their nerves for so long and a minute before the break Sunderland finally broke through.’
      • ‘But they had to live on their nerves at times in the second half after a double half-time substitution gave Charlton a shot in the arm.’
  • strain every nerve

    • Make every possible effort.

      • ‘The organisers and the office-bearers have strained every nerve possible to make the tournament a resounding success.’
      • ‘I shall hope against hope, I shall strain every nerve to achieve an honourable settlement for my country if I can do so without having to put the millions of my countrymen and countrywomen and even children through this ordeal of fire.’
      • ‘He that will not respond to its accents, and strain every nerve to carry into effect its provisions, is unworthy of the name of free man.’
      • ‘Here I was straining every nerve and muscle to follow the ideal of celibacy, while the most highly regarded proponents of the path couldn't hack it themselves!’
      • ‘Even at this late stage we want to strain every nerve to avoid military action.’
      • ‘A high operations tempo means that generals, understandably, strain every nerve to keep frontline units manned with the best people - even if that scants the educational system of teachers and top students.’
      • ‘And thus he was sure that if he strained every nerve to feel calm, she would also feel this sense of calm.’
      • ‘I can remember as Education Minister over thirty years ago, asking my Department to strain every nerve to find qualified Aboriginals who could teach Aboriginals in schools throughout the Northern Territory.’
      • ‘Their absence is adequately compensated by men and women, who strain every nerve to attract the attention of the audience.’
      • ‘She smiled bravely, straining every nerve within her, to hold back the grief she felt growing inside.’
      struggle, labour, toil, make a supreme effort, make every effort, spare no effort, strain every nerve, try very hard, strive, break one's back, drive oneself to the limit, push oneself to the limit, do one's best
      View synonyms
  • touch (or hit) a nerve (or a raw nerve)

    • Provoke a reaction by referring to a sensitive topic.

      • ‘Clearly I have touched a nerve as you can tell from reading Aaron's comment.’
      • ‘Sometimes, the interview, which is often recorded in a single take, touches a raw nerve; hard-nosed politicians have been known to shed a tear upon reminiscing about an aspect of their past that has a special significance for them.’
      • ‘You've touched a nerve with this topic and it smarts.’
      • ‘Well, I agree with the previous comment that he hit a nerve.’
      • ‘And I think he touched a nerve, which is why we're seeing so much reaction, not just in the media but on Capitol Hill, as you just showed.’
      • ‘When discussions about ‘vision’ spiral out from the rarefied policy circles of Washington into the editorial pages of mainstream newspapers, you know that topic has hit a nerve.’
      • ‘‘The prison issue and the hunger strike hits a nerve with nationalists, and in particular, republicans,’ said another senior republican.’
      • ‘Residents had been unable to reach the bodies for nearly a week, touching a nerve because Islam requires immediate burial of the dead.’
      • ‘So when Vince is hired by a suspicious husband to find out if his wife is having an affair, it's a case that's touches a raw nerve.’
      • ‘Boutin's comments touched a nerve that was already close to the surface, and my observations are directed towards a greater cultural issue.’
  • war of nerves

    • A struggle in which opponents try to wear each other down by psychological means.

      • ‘You've waged a war of nerves, but you can't crush the kingdom’
      • ‘Are we to be shown how the war of nerves could have ended?’
      • ‘In most respects it was a war of nerves as well as words.’
      • ‘The selling agent, Jordan, expects a war of nerves and resources.’
      • ‘In the current war of nerves, it is the Korean people who stand to suffer.’
      • ‘The clubs have started a mutual war of nerves, accusing each other of fixing matches and corrupting referees.’
      • ‘War in the jungle is very largely a war of nerves.’
      • ‘The war of nerves testing the three principal candidates for victory in the 2000 Tour De France reaches a climax tomorrow, when the race heads into the Pyrenees.’
      • ‘The terror group also focuses on conducting a war of nerves.’
      • ‘It's a war of nerves for the players and the coaches right now.’

Origin

Late Middle English (also in the sense ‘tendon, sinew’): from Latin nervus; related to Greek neuron nerve (see neuron).

Pronunciation:

nerve

/nəːv/