n. & v.
n. 1 a a fibre or bundle of fibres that transmits impulses of sensation or motion between the brain or spinal cord and other parts of the body. b the material constituting these. 2 a coolness in danger; bravery; assurance. b colloq. impudence, audacity (they've got a nerve). 3 (in pl.) a the bodily state in regard to physical sensitiveness and the interaction between the brain and other parts. b a state of heightened nervousness or sensitivity; a condition of mental or physical stress (need to calm my nerves). 4 a rib of a leaf, esp. the midrib. 5 poet. archaic a sinew or tendon.
v.tr. 1 (usu. refl.) brace (oneself) to face danger, suffering, etc. 2 give strength, vigour, or courage to. get on a person's nerves irritate or annoy a person. have nerves of iron (or steel) (of a person etc.) be not easily upset or frightened. nerve-cell an elongated branched cell transmitting impulses in nerve tissue. nerve-centre 1 a group of closely connected nerve cells associated in performing some function. 2 the centre of control of an organization etc. nerve gas a poisonous gas affecting the nervous system. nerve-racking stressful, frightening; straining the nerves. nerved adj. (also in comb.).
[ ME, = sinew, f. L nervus, rel. to Gk neuron ]