Unnerving refers to something that causes anxiety, fear, or discomfort, making a person feel uneasy or disturbed.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



Disturbing, disconcerting, unsettling, alarming, unsettling


Reassuring, calming, soothing, relaxing, comforting

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun None
Verb unnerve, unnerves, unnerving, unnerved
Adjective unnerving
Adverb None

Example Sentences

  • The sound of footsteps in the empty hallway was unnerving.

  • The sudden change in the weather was unnerving for the hikers on the trail.

  • The constant news of the pandemic can be unnerving for many people.

  • The way the stranger stared at her was unnerving and made her feel uncomfortable.


The word unnerving is commonly used to describe situations or experiences that cause anxiety, fear, or discomfort, and make a person feel uneasy or disturbed. It can be used to describe a wide range of situations, such as encountering a dangerous animal, receiving bad news, or being in a dark and unfamiliar place.

The root of the word unnerving is “nerve,” which refers to the body’s ability to feel sensations and react to them. The prefix “un-” is added to denote negation or reversal, turning “nerve” into “unnerving” and giving the word its meaning of something that takes away or undermines a person’s sense of security or confidence.

The word unnerving is often used to describe a feeling of psychological discomfort, as opposed to physical discomfort. It can also be used to describe an action that causes such discomfort, such as a cruel joke or a deliberate attempt to intimidate.

The word unnerving can be used to describe a variety of situations in different contexts. In literature, it may be used to describe a character’s reaction to a scary or unsettling event. In news reporting, it may be used to describe the effect of a tragic event on a community or a society. In everyday speech, it may be used to describe a personal experience, such as a job interview or a first date, that makes a person feel uneasy or anxious.

The word unnerving can also be modified with prefixes and suffixes to create related words. For example, the suffix “-ly” can be added to create the adverb “unnervingly,” which describes something that is done in a way that causes discomfort or anxiety. The prefix “dis-” can be added to create the word “disnerving,” which means the opposite of unnerving, or something that brings comfort or ease.