Time for some cells to buzz

Articles for Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis
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With this article, we learn words with the help of our nerve cells.
Have you heard of a neurologist?
Well, he is a doctor of the nerves, literally that is.

In medical terminology, he is a medical specialist in the nervous system and the disorders affecting it. The roots of this word are Greek in nature, ‘neuro-, neuron’ meaning ‘nerve, nerve fiber, or nerve cells’. I hope you are not confused what nerves are. In case you are, just look at the image on the right and you would know what we are talking about (an excerpt from our biology books).

There are quite a few interesting words based on the same source. One of them is neuralgia.

Neuralgia is a combination of these very nerves with another root, ‘algia’, which basically is a root meaning ‘pain’. Thus neuralgia is a type of pain that is defined as Pain of a severe, throbbing, or stabbing character in the course or distribution of one or more nerves (especially of the head or face)’.

Another word that we have commonly heard of is ‘analgesics’.  Analgesics are compounds capable of relieving pain without the loss of consciousness or without producing anesthesia. Before operations, people are generally given either analgesics or anesthetics (a drug that causes temporary loss of bodily sensations).

Another word of common usage is nostalgia: the pain of longing to return home, to a former time in one’s life, or to familiar people and surroundings; severe home sickness. If you see closely, this is pain of another kind, a pain of personal and emotional kind. We all feel nostalgic at certain points of time. In general, nostalgia is used in the sense where it means ‘A mixed feeling of happiness, sadness, and longing when recalling a person, place, or event from the past’. Originally, the term was coined as a medical term to refer to a severe melancholia caused by protracted absence from home. In terms of origin, it was coined in 1668 by Johannes Hofer as a rendering of German heimweh, from Greek nostos, “homecoming” +algos, “pain, grief, distress”. Soon this sense was transformed to mean of “wistful yearning for the past” was first recorded in 1920.

Let’s go back to our parent root for this post, ‘neuro-, neuron’. It appears in the following words (listed with meaning):
Neuron: A cell that is specialized to conduct nerve impulses
Neurosis: A mental or personality disturbance not attributable to any known neurological or organic dysfunction
Neuroethics: The study of ethical implications of treatments for neurological diseases
Neuritis: Inflammation of a nerve accompanied by pain and sometimes loss of function
Neuropsychiatry: The branch of medicine dealing with mental disorders attributable to diseases of the nervous system

As we see, each word has some relation to some nerve or the other (pun intended).
Hope you have not a nervy time learning all these words.

Thinking of the phrase ‘nervy time’, what comes to mind are the idioms related to the word nerve. These are pretty interesting too (its long list):

A. ‘lot of nerve’
1. Fig. great rudeness; a lot of audacity or brashness.
For example: To walk out one’s fiancée takes a lot of nerve!
2. Fig. courage. (*Typically: have ~; take ~.)
For example: It takes a lot of courage to oppose one’s boss.

B. *on someone’s nerves
Fig. annoying someone.
For example:  The constant crying of the babies is getting on my nerves.

C. bundle of nerves
A very nervous person.
For example: I was a bundle of nerves before my debate speech.

D. nerves of steel
Fig. very steady nerves; great patience and courage.
For example: In the movie Rambo, Sylvester Stallone had nerves of steel.

E. a battle/war of nerves
A situation in which two competing groups of people try to defeat each other by frightening and threatening each other without taking action.
For example: Any conflict is basically a battle of nerves, the one who holds up better wins.

F. get/grate on somebody’s nerves (informal)
To annoy someone, especially by doing something again and again.
For example: In every group of friends, there is one that get’s on your nerves.

G. hit/touch a (raw) nerve
To upset someone by talking about a particular subject.
For example: Talking about the riots, the anchor touched a raw nerve in those who were affected by it.

H. live on your nerves (British & Australian)
To always be very anxious
For example:  It is not a healthy habit to live on one’s never, one should relax a little.

I. strain every nerve
To try extremely hard to do something
For example: Mahesh was straining every nerve to catch what they were saying but they were sitting just a bit too far away from him.

J. Lose your nerve
To fear doing something
For example: Dhoni lost his nerve during the series against England and refused to experiment even though his side was losing.

I hope you did not lose your nerve while reading the above.
Happy learning.

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