nervous Nellie

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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 ?
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 those nervous nellies that may have doubted the outcome of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, rest at ease.
Of course, there were those Nervous Nellies who insisted on pointing out that the economy is still shaky and that the "geopolitical situation" (a euphemism for war on Iraq) might throw a monkey wrench into things.
Gary Bauer, a conservative who ran for the Republican presidential nomination, derides as "nervous Nellies" the timid loyalists who do not want Bush to move too fast on a conservative agenda.
She notes that with the recent arrival of Webvan, nervous Nellies can have groceries delivered, rather than leave the house to brave the "transitioning" neighborhood.
In August 1998, the Los Angeles Times reported that "the idea of filing a Medicare recovery lawsuit...was rejected, in part because Justice attorneys were concerned that the government lacked legal standing to bring such a suit." The article quoted an outside attorney (presumably a plaintiffs lawyer) who dismissed the skeptics as "nervous Nellies" for worrying about such a minor issue.
If the kids at the kitchen party are listless, sensation-craving miscreants--or alternatively, nervous Nellies paralyzed by their fear of parental punishment--there's plenty of reason for it.
Dan Quayle, now spokesman for Cliff Notes, looking cherubically ambassadorial with his grown-up greying sideburns, called some in the GOP "nervous Nellies" and was immediately denounced at another GOP gay-bashing rally.
The Western White House staff are "nervous nellies," and a large part of the 500+ drop in the Dow on Black Monday is attributed to Alan Greenspan's timidity.
In the 1970's when the late Bishop Carroll Dozier invited Catholics in his Memphis diocese to a public Penance service, approximately 15,000 assembled in a local stadium to pray and (to the horror of nervous Nellies in high places) receive general absolution.