war of nerves
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Related to war of nerves: a paper tiger
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.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
war of nerves, a
A conflict that employs psychological techniques rather than direct violence. This term, which refers to a barrage of propaganda, threats, false rumors, and sabotage calculated to undermine the enemy’s morale, came into being in the mid-twentieth century. Edith Simon used it in The Past Masters (1953): “War of nerves . . . best thing is to take no notice.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer