Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

NERVISH, adj., n. Also nerwish (Mry. 1927 E. B. Levack Lossiemouth 14); nerv(i)es (Sh. 1899 Shetland News (4 March)); narvish (Lth. 1891 R. F. Hardy Tibby's Tryst 123).

I. adj. Nervous, excitable, easily agitated (Fif. 1912 D. Rorie Mining Folk 403; Slk. 1914 Southern Reporter (17 Dec.) 3; Uls. 1953 Traynor; n., m. and s.Sc. 1964). Dial. in Eng. Also adv. Sc. 1825 Wilson Foresters xii.:
I felt a little nervish and queer sometimes.
Slk. 1827 Hogg Shep. Cal. iv.:
Ye maunna laugh at it, dearie. . . . Maybe a nervish fever, wha kens.
Bwk. 1859 P. Landreth J. Spindle (1911) 62:
I saw his fingers workin' awa nervish at his bit cane.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb i.:
She was . . . understood to be “far frae stoot”; she was, indeed, “nervish”.
Ayr. 1889 H. Johnston Glenbuckie 260:
I have been getting real nervish of late.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 31:
I got akinda nervish.
Lth. 1925 C. P. Slater Marget Pow 75:
My grandmother was a terrible nervish woman; she was aye feared it was goin' to rain.
Bnff. 1939 J. M. Caie ' Twixt Hills and Sea 37:
Aftener a piece he's beggin' Or some nervish wifie fleggin'.

Hence nervishness, nervousness (Uls. 1953 Traynor; n., m. and s.Sc. 1964). Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin 192:
It had brocht on my mither a turn o' nervishness.
Abd. 1953 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 121:
I can gie ye a braw cure for nervishness.

II. n. With def. art.: an attack of nervousness, a fit of agitation or excitement (Sh. 1964). Sh. 1897 Shetland News (12 June, 23 Oct.):
He'll shurely no geng aboot da flüir i' da nervies laek a dumpest füle. . . . Dey speak o' tae geein' folk da nervies.

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Nervish adj., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Jun 2021 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND: