American English

Definition of nervous adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1anxious about something or afraid of something nervous (about something) Consumers are very nervous about the future. nervous (about doing something) He had been nervous about inviting us. I felt really nervous before the interview. a nervous glance/smile/voice (= one that shows that you feel anxious) By the time the police arrived, I was a nervous wreck. opposite confident Thesaurusworriedconcerned nervous anxious uneasyThese words all describe feeling unhappy and afraid because you are thinking about unpleasant things that might happen or might have happened.worried thinking about unpleasant things that might happen or might have happened and therefore feeling unhappy and afraidconcerned worried and feeling concern about somethingworried or concerned?Concerned is usually used when you are talking about a problem that affects another person, society, the world, etc., while worried can be used for this or for more personal matters.nervous feeling worried about something or slightly afraid of somethinganxious feeling worried or nervous about somethingworried, nervous, or anxious?Worried is the most frequent word to describe how you feel when you are thinking about a problem or something bad that might happen. Anxious can describe a stronger feeling and is more formal. Nervous is more often used to describe how you feel before you do something very important such as an exam or an interview, or something unpleasant or difficult. Nervous can describe someone's personality:a very nervous manis often or usually nervous;a worried manis worried on a particular occasion or about a particular thing. Worried describes his feelings, not his personality. Anxious may describe feelings or personality.uneasy feeling worried or unhappy about a particular situation, especially because you think something bad may happen or because you are not sure that what you are doing is rightPatterns worried/concerned/nervous/anxious/uneasy about (doing) something worried/concerned/anxious for somebody/something worried/concerned/nervous/anxious that… a(n) worried/concerned/nervous/anxious/uneasy expression/look/smile to get worried/nervous/anxious
  2. 2easily worried or frightened She was a thin, nervous girl. He's not the nervous type. She was of a nervous disposition.
  3. 3connected with the body's nerves and often affecting you mentally or emotionally a nervous condition/disorder/disease She was in a state of nervous exhaustion.
adverb She smiled nervously.
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noun [uncountable] He tried to hide his nervousness.
Thesaurusnervousneurotic on edge jitteryThese words all describe people who are easily frightened or who are behaving in a frightened way.nervous easily worried or frightened; anxious about something or afraid of something:She has a nervous temperament. I felt really nervous about meeting him. See also the entry for worried.neurotic not able to behave in a reasonable, calm way, because you are always worried about something:He became neurotic about keeping the house clean.on edge nervous or bad-tempered, especially because you are worried about what might happen:She was always on edge before an interview.jittery (informal) anxious and nervous about what might happen:All this talk of job losses was making him jittery.Patterns a nervous/neurotic man/woman/lady/girl/boy to feel nervous/on edge/jittery a bit nervous/on edge/jittery
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: nervous