to touch a nerve

Idiom Definition

Idiom Definition - touch a nerve

"to touch a nerve"

to upset someone by talking about a particular subject


Related words and phrases:

Idiom Scenario 1

Idiom Definition - touch a nerve

Two colleagues are talking ...

Colleague 1:  Why did the boss become so upset with you this morning?

Colleague 2:  I am not sure.  We were discussing the set up of the new system.

Colleague 1:  Oh, that's why the boss freaked out.  You touched a nerve.

Colleague 2:  How so?  I was just making suggestions for improvements.

Colleague 1:  The boss was told by his boss that our boss was no longer permitted to be involved in the project.

Idiom Scenario 2

Idiom Definition - touch a nerve

Two friends are talking ...

Friend 1:  I was talking with my girlfriend this morning and all of a sudden she started crying.

Friend 2:  What were you talking about?

Friend 1:  I was trying to convince her to go to the circus with me. I really like circuses but she kept refusing and I kept pushing the issue.

Friend 2:  There's the reason she became so upset. You touched a nerve. Her brother died in a weird accident when a motorcycle stunt man lost control of his motorcycle and hit your girlfriend's brother. They were at the circus.

to touch a nerve - Usage:


Usage Frequency Index:   311   click for frequency by country

to touch a nerve - Gerund Form:

Touching a nerve when talking about sensitive subjects is common.

to touch a nerve - Examples:

1)  ... suggest that the problems are not that bad, it touched a nerve. It is hard to overlook the shortcomings of a solution in which children ...

2)  ... of his antagonism towards her. It's this last jab that really touched a nerve. It would be a snide remark directed towards anyone, but for a conservative ...

3)  The early goal seemed to have touched a nerve with the Southern Tigers as the game descended into chaos.

4)  Woo's mysterious disappearance and death touched a nerve with suburban families, especially moms who related to Woo's daily routine and worried ...

5)  The Boston marathon bombing in 2013 touched a nerve across America; two brothers made a superpower look vulnerable again.

6)  He has touched a nerve with this country, because we have lost so many manufacturing jobs overseas.

7)  Comments such as that touched a nerve with Gutierrez, who reiterated that Yakima's poorest neighborhoods have long been neglected by ...

8)  ... verbal attacks admirably, he also touched a nerve when he accused the Irishman of being on steroids.

9)  ... that commercial rates should be based on what people can afford will have touched a nerve with business people throughout the constituency.

10)  The brutality of the killings touched a nerve with investigators who held a news conference shortly after the shootings and pledged to track ...

11)  ... will touch a nerve with viewers who can see through to the phoniness of Hollywood, ...

12)  You did not touch a nerve, but nonsense has to be viewed as nonsense and be addressed.

13)  Some incident will touch a nerve and set off a wave of reaction among people fed up with being forced to

14)  That incident touches a nerve with Bruce Wayne/Batman. He becomes enraged and obsessed with wiping out Superman.

15)  Sometimes advertisements can be a bit exaggerated, but this particular ad touches a nerve. Why? Because it focuses on aspects which reflect reality.

16)  Occasionally, a drug hike is so blatantly obvious that it touches a nerve.

17)  Schrab's bizarre running gag touches a nerve precisely because Internet culture is teeming with people who really are as careless and/or dumb ...

18)  Use of drones by Seattle police touches a nerve.

19)  ... it coincides with efforts by European governments to curb cash in general, touching a nerve and stoking fears among the public that bureaucrats are conspiring to eradicate real money altogether ...

20)  I would only hope that by touching a nerve that stimulates the inevitable double standard, knee-jerk government reaction that results in more stupid ...