• (RP) IPA: /ˈnɜːvəs/
  • (GA) IPA: /ˈnɝːvəs/


  1. Of sinews and tendons.
    1. (obsolete) Full of sinews. [14th–18th c.]
    2. (obsolete) Having strong or prominent sinews; sinewy, muscular. [15th–19th c.]
    3. (obsolete) Of a piece of writing#Noun|writing, literary style etc.: forceful, powerful. [17th–19th c.]
      • 1788, Frances Burney, Journals & Letters, Penguin 2001, p. 264:
        Nervous, clear, and striking, was almost all that he uttered […].
  2. Of nerves.
    1. Supplied with nerves; innervated. [from 14th c.]
    2. Affecting the nerves or nervous system. [from 15th c.]
    3. (botany, obsolete) Nervose. [17th–18th c.]
      • 1733, Philip Miller, “CANNACORUS ↗”, in The Gardeners Dictionary: Containing the Methods of Cultivating and Improving the Kitchen, Fruit and Flower Garden, […], 2nd edition, London: Printed for the author; and sold by C[harles] Rivington, […], OCLC 429215710 ↗, column 1:
        CANNACORUS, [...] It hath a knobbed tuberoſe Root: The Leaves are long and nervous: [...]
    4. Easily agitated or alarm#Verb|alarmed; edgy, on edge. [from 18th c.]
      Synonyms: excitable, high-strung, hypersensitive, Thesaurus:nervous
      Being in a crowd of strangers makes me nervous.
    5. Apprehensive, anxious, hesitant, worried#Adjective|worried. [from 18th c.]
      Synonyms: Thesaurus:nervous
      Antonyms: calm, relaxed
      • 1843 December 18, Charles Dickens, “Stave Five. The End of It.”, in A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, London: Chapman & Hall, […], OCLC 55746801 ↗, page 161 ↗:
        They were looking at the table (which was spread out in great array); for these young housekeepers are always nervous on such points, and like to see that everything is right.
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