war of nerves

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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
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]
See also: nerve, of, war
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.”
See also: of, war
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
However, the Reit proposal is currently engaging the property sector in a war of nerves with fears that the Treasury will either get it right or get it wrong.
Ben Shephard's A War of Nerves, the first comprehensive enquiry into the experience and treatment of wartime trauma to cover the whole of the twentieth century, displays a strong present-mindedness.
LENNIE Lawrence has won his war of nerves with Rotherham United and will today sign target man Alan Lee for pounds 850,000.
END WAR OF NERVES (IHT/Asahi as translated from the Japanese-language Asahi Shimbun's editorial published Jan.
A War of Nerves: Soldiers and Psychiatrists in the Twentieth Century by Ben Shephard Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001.
RING legend Sugar Ray Leonard is backing Lennox Lewis to win the war of nerves against Mike Tyson.
* A War of Nerves: Soldiers and Psychiatrists 1914-1994 by Ben Shephard (Jonathan Cape)
Before the Coen brothers, Elia Kazan's Wild River (1960) detailed the war of nerves between a young TVA official and an elderly woman who refuses to sell her property.
MOSCOW The war of nerves between top Russian media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky and the Russian government continued last week, with no sign that either side is ready to give an inch.
Recently returned from a visit to Beijing, he found his counterparts in mainland think tanks geared up for a sustained war of nerves. The Chinese military--which holds the swing vote in Beijing's ongoing succession struggle--views cross-straits rivalry as a life-and-death contest that is now entering its endgame.
Asean countries refuse to be drawn into a war of nerves between the two powers because it does not benefit them at all, and also given their growing economic interdependence with China.
After waging a four-year war of nerves with the villagers, the family retreated by seeking another plot of land -- measuring 2.5 acre -- which the district administration allotted to Lahanbai.
In particular, they have engaged in a war of nerves by continuously boasting of their military and nuclear prowess.
It has become a war of nerves and it has to be seen who gets what at the end of the ongoing engagement and disengagement process.
Conflicting statements and denials flew between Athens and Brussels on Tuesday in a war of nerves highlighting the depth of mutual mistrust over a new round of negotiations on an 86 billion euro bailout that started this week.
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