Definition of nerve noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//nɜːv//
    ; NAmE NAmE//nɜːrv//
    Brave, Internal anatomy, Nervous
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  1. 1   [countable] any of the long threads that carry messages between the brain and parts of the body, enabling you to move, feel pain, etc. the optic nerve He's off work with a trapped nerve in his neck. nerve cells nerve endings Every nerve in her body was tense. See related entries: Internal anatomy
  2. 2  nerves [plural] feelings of worry or anxiety Even after years as a singer, he still suffers from nerves before a performance. I need something to calm/steady my nerves. Everyone's nerves were on edge (= everyone felt tense). He lives on his nerves (= is always worried). By the end of the meal her nerves were completely frayed. See related entries: Nervous
  3. 3[uncountable] the courage to do something difficult or dangerous synonym guts It took a lot of nerve to take the company to court. I was going to have a go at parachuting but lost my nerve at the last minute. He kept his nerve to win the final set 6–4. See related entries: Brave
  4. 4[singular, uncountable] (informal) a way of behaving that other people think is rude or not appropriate synonym cheek I don't know how you have the nerve to show your face after what you said! He's got a nerve asking us for money! ‘Then she demanded to see the manager!’ ‘What a nerve!
  5. Word Originlate Middle English (also in the sense ‘tendon, sinew’): from Latin nervus; related to Greek neuron ‘nerve’ (see neuron).Extra examples At the end of a day’s teaching, her nerves were absolutely shattered. At the last minute she almost lost her nerve. By the time of the interview, I was a bundle of nerves. Caring for him while he was so ill has been a great strain on her nerves. Cutting the nerves to the stomach does not affect hunger. He damaged a nerve in his spine. He kept his nerve to win a thrilling game. He lay awake, his nerves throbbing. He uncharacteristically allowed nerves to get the better of him in yesterday’s game. He’s been off work with a trapped nerve in his back. Her nerves were shot from all the things happening around her. Her nerves were stretched to breaking point. His endless whining really gets on my nerves. His nerves jangled every time the phone rang. I didn’t have the nerve to ask. I had an attack of nerves just before I went on stage. I’m not sure my nerves can stand another night like this. I’ve never suffered from first-night nerves. I’ve trapped a nerve in my spine. Intense pain shot through every nerve in his body. It gave me time to calm my jittery nerves before meeting her. It took a lot of nerve to stand up and speak. My remarks about divorce had unwittingly touched a raw nerve. She took a few deep breaths to calm her nerves. Singing in front of so many people was a real test of nerve. Skydiving is all right for people who’ve got the nerves for it. Steeling my nerve, I jumped the first bar. The message travels along the nerve to the brain. The nerve runs from the eye to the brain. The nerves transmit pain. The union has been fighting a war of nerves with the management over pay. The vagus nerve controls heart rate and breathing. You must find the nerve to ask for more money. You need nerves of steel to be a good poker player. She kept her nerve to win the final set 6–4.Idioms
    be a bag/bundle of nerves
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    (informal) to be very nervous See related entries: Nervous
    (British English, informal) a combination of confidence and lack of respect I didn't think she would have the brass neck to do that.
    get on somebody’s nerves
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    (informal) to annoy somebody That music is starting to get on my nerves. It really gets on my nerves when people hang up without leaving a message. See related entries: Anger
    to be able to remain calm in a difficult or dangerous situation
    hit/touch a (raw/sensitive) nerve
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    to mention a subject that makes somebody feel angry, upset, embarrassed, etc. You touched a raw nerve when you mentioned his first wife. See related entries: Embarrassment
    strain every nerve/sinew (to do something)
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    (formal) to try as hard as you can to do something He strained every nerve to snatch victory from defeat.
    an attempt to defeat your opponents by putting pressure on them so that they lose courage or confidence
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: nerve