Meaning of NERVE in English

I. nerve 1 S3 W3 /nɜːv $ nɜːrv/ BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: adjective : ↑ nervous , ↑ nerveless , ↑ nerve-racking , ↑ nervy , ↑ unnerving ; noun : ↑ nerve , nerves, ↑ nervousness ; verb : ↑ nerve , ↑ unnerve ; adverb : ↑ nervously ]

[ Date: 1300-1400 ; Language: Latin ; Origin: nervus ]

1 . WORRIED FEELINGS nerves [plural]

a) used to talk about someone being worried or frightened

sb’s nerves are on edge/in tatters/frayed (=someone feels very worried or frightened)

calm/steady your nerves (=stop yourself feeling worried or frightened)

Sean drank a large glass of brandy to calm his nerves.

be a bundle/bag of nerves (=be extremely worried or frightened)

I remember you were a bundle of nerves on your wedding day.

b) the feeling of being worried or a little frightened:

A lot of people suffer from nerves before they go on stage.

‘What’s wrong with Rachel?’ ‘It’s just nerves. She’s got her driving test tomorrow.’

exam/first-night etc nerves

2 . BODY PART [countable] nerves are parts inside your body which look like threads and carry messages between the brain and other parts of the body:

a condition which affects the nerves in the back

trapped nerve British English pinched nerve American English (=a nerve that has been crushed between two muscles etc, causing pain)

3 . COURAGE [uncountable] courage and confidence in a dangerous, difficult, or frightening situation

the nerve to do something

Not many people have the nerve to stand up and speak in front of a large audience.

She finally found the nerve to tell him she wanted a divorce.

It takes a lot of nerve to report a colleague for sexual harassment.

lose your nerve (=suddenly become very nervous so that you cannot do what you intended to do)

Jensen would’ve won if he hadn’t lost his nerve.

hold/keep your nerve (=remain calm in a difficult situation)

It’s hard to keep your nerve when people keep interrupting you.

4 . get on sb’s nerves informal if someone gets on your nerves, they annoy you, especially by doing something all the time:

She’s always moaning. It really gets on my nerves.

5 . LACK OF RESPECT [singular] spoken if you say someone has a nerve, you mean that they have done something unsuitable or impolite, without seeming to be embarrassed about behaving in this way SYN cheek :

He’s got a nerve asking for more money.

‘She didn’t say sorry or anything.’ ‘What a nerve!’

have the nerve to do something

She lets me do all the work, and then she has the nerve to criticize my cooking.

6 . touch/hit a (raw) nerve to mention something that makes someone upset, angry, or embarrassed, especially accidentally:

Without realizing, he had touched a raw nerve.

7 . nerves of steel the ability to be brave and calm in a dangerous or difficult situation:

The job requires nerves of steel.

⇨ strain every nerve at ↑ strain 2 (6)

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 1)

■ verbs

▪ calm/steady somebody's nerves (=make someone feel less worried or nervous)

She took a few deep breaths, trying to calm her nerves.

▪ settle/soothe somebody's nerves (=make someone feel less worried or nervous)

She hoped that a cup of tea would soothe her nerves.

▪ suffer from nerves (=often feel worried or nervous)

He suffered from nerves and could no longer perform on stage.

▪ your nerves jangle (=you feel extremely nervous or worried)

Suddenly she was wide awake, her nerves jangling.

■ NOUN + nerves

▪ exam nerves

Quite a few of the students suffered from exam nerves.

▪ first-night nerves (=before the first night of a performance)

She always suffered from first-night nerves.

■ phrases

▪ somebody's nerves are on edge (=they feel nervous or worried about what might happen)

His nerves were on edge as he entered the dark room.

▪ somebody's nerves are tattered/frayed/shattered (=they feel very nervous or worried)

Everyone's nerves were frayed by the end of the week.

▪ somebody's nerves are stretched (to breaking point) (=they feel very nervous or worried)

Her nerves were stretched almost to breaking point as she waited.

▪ be a bag/bundle of nerves (=to feel extremely nervous or worried)

I was a bag of nerves during the interview.

▪ be shaking with nerves (=to be extremely nervous)

Just before the audition he was shaking with nerves.

▪ be in a state of nerves (=to be in a nervous condition)

She was in such a state of nerves that she jumped at every noise.

▪ an attack of nerves (=a time when you feel very nervous)

Harrison had an attack of nerves before the match.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 3)

■ verbs

▪ have the nerve to do something

I just didn't have the nerve to tell them the truth.

▪ find the nerve to do something

He couldn't find the nerve to ask her out.

▪ hold/keep your nerve (=remain calm and confident in a difficult situation)

The team held their nerve and went on to win.

▪ lose your nerve (=suddenly lose the courage or confidence to do something)

I wanted to ask him the question, but I lost my nerve.

▪ test somebody's nerve (=test whether someone will have the courage to do something difficult)

The next few days would test their nerve to the limit.

▪ somebody's nerve fails (him/her) (=someone suddenly loses the courage or confidence to do something)

At the last moment, her nerve failed her.

▪ somebody's nerve breaks (=someone loses the courage to do something or continue something)

The police hoped his nerve would break and he'd give himself away.

■ phrases

▪ it takes nerve to do something (=something requires a lot of courage or confidence)

It takes nerve to stand up for what you believe.

▪ a failure/loss of nerve (=a situation in which someone lacks the courage to do something)

They accused the government of a loss of nerve.

II. nerve 2 BrE AmE verb

[ Word Family: adjective : ↑ nervous , ↑ nerveless , ↑ nerve-racking , ↑ nervy , ↑ unnerving ; noun : ↑ nerve , nerves, ↑ nervousness ; verb : ↑ nerve , ↑ unnerve ; adverb : ↑ nervously ]

nerve yourself to do something/for something to force yourself to be brave enough to do something:

The parachutist nerved himself for the jump.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.