nervous Nellie


Also found in: Dictionary, Financial.

nervous Nellie

Someone who is more timid, nervous, or anxious than is normal or reasonable. My mother's always a bit of a nervous Nellie around the grandkids, so she doesn't like to look after them. I'm too much of a nervous Nellie to ever do something like sky diving.
See also: Nellie, nervous

nervous Nellie

An unduly timid or anxious person, as in He's a real nervous Nellie, calling the doctor about every little symptom. This term does not allude to a particular person named Nellie; rather, the name was probably chosen for the sake of alliteration. [Colloquial; c. 1920]
See also: Nellie, nervous

nervous Nellie

n. any nervous person, male or female. Sue is such a nervous Nellie. She should calm down.
See also: Nellie, nervous

nervous Nellie

A person who worries unduly or is foolishly fearful. The term apparently originated in the late 1920s and referred to Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg, who served from 1925 to 1929. It soon was picked up and used for any individual, male or female, who showed such qualities. Richard Dyer used it in a review of Acis and Galatea, writing: “The direction presented him [Acis] as a kind of nervous Nellie, unable to decide which shirt to wear to impress Galatea” (Boston Globe, Nov. 23, 2004). See also worry wart.
See also: Nellie, nervous
References in periodicals archive ?
The source said: "Richard felt Winona was incredibly neurotic and called her Nervous Nellie when she wasn't around.
It is a soothing, repetitious sight, like watching the sea, though it was a hot and gloomy place to work and the museum has been driven to all sorts of laborious precautions by today's Nervous Nellie safety regulations.
Proclaiming the age of Internet as something not to be feared, but as an "exciting time," Sulzberger told his nervous nellie editors: "Where should newspapers publishers be putting their money?
Some, the "Nervous Nellies," choke at the thought of reviewing their benefits package and financial security, while the "Cool Cucumbers" think they have it all figured out.
Tagged as Nervous Nellies, 66% of this group report they would feel a lack of financial security, while 26% indicated they would be unprepared emotionally if they suffered a disability, and 41% would be worried that they would never be able to work again.
For example, when examining the Nervous Nellies in advertising/marketing, it found their anxiety grounded in a lack of financial resources and stability.