hit/touch a nerve

hit a (raw) nerve

To evoke a strong emotional reaction, such as anger, sadness, or disgust, upon being encountered, heard, read, etc. Your column must have hit a nerve, because we are getting slammed with feedback from readers—and they're not happy. I could tell he was hitting a raw nerve when he brought up Jane's former employer and Jane went silent for a moment.
See also: hit, nerve
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

touch a nerve


touch a raw nerve

COMMON If something that you say touches a nerve or touches a raw nerve, it upsets someone, because you have mentioned a subject that they feel strongly about or are very sensitive about. I realised I had touched a nerve with my remarks. Buchanan's speech touched a raw nerve here at the Capitol. Note: You can also use other verbs such as strike or hit instead of touch. She seemed to strike a nerve when she asked Dr. Lowe about his past life. His remarks clearly hit a raw nerve with congressional Democrats.
See also: nerve, touch
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

touch (or hit) a (raw) nerve

provoke a reaction by referring to a sensitive topic.
See also: nerve, touch
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

hit/touch a (raw) ˈnerve

say something which upsets somebody because they are very sensitive about that subject: You touched a raw nerve when you talked to the manager about the need for better communications within the company.
See also: hit, nerve, touch
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
See also: