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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

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); nairvous.

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.
Gsw. 1915 Ian Hay The First Hundred Thousand (1985) 65:
"I doot I'm gettin' a thing nairvous," he muttered apologetically to the sergeant.
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.

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"Nervish adj., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Apr 2024 <>



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