a war of nerves

a war of nerves

Psychological warfare used to wear down an adversary's resolve through fear tactics. The dictator's threats against the sovereign nation he was trying to conquer became a war of nerves as the citizens worried about the future of their country.
See also: nerve, of, war

war of nerves

A conflict characterized by psychological pressure such as threats and rumors, aiming to undermine an enemy's morale. For example, Her lawyer said the university had waged a war of nerves to persuade his client to resign . This expression alludes to tactics used in World War II. [Late 1930s]
See also: nerve, of, war

a war of nerves

or

a battle of nerves

COMMON You can describe a situation as a war of nerves or a battle of nerves when two opposing people or groups try to defeat each other by making each other worried or frightened. But, in the war of nerves now going on between the two sides in the crisis, it is becoming increasingly difficult to separate the leaders' real intentions from their propaganda tactics. It's part of the psychological warfare — the battle of nerves — that's been going on for some time.
See also: nerve, of, war

a war of nerves

a struggle in which opponents try to wear each other down by psychological means.
See also: nerve, of, war

a ˌwar of ˈnerves

an attempt to defeat your opponents by putting pressure on them so that they lose courage or confidence: A big American company is trying to take over our company; it’s a real war of nerves.
See also: nerve, of, war
References in periodicals archive ?
Mr Shephard spent a decade compiling quotes from psychiatrists and veterans for his book A War of Nerves, on which he claims much of Motion's poem is based.
Accusing Motion of plagiarism, he added: "Of the 152 lines in An Equal Voice, all but 16 are taken directly from A War of Nerves.
Shephard's A War of Nerves contains the line: "War from behind the lines is a dizzying jumble.