Grate on one’s nerves

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Grate on one’s nerves is an idiom with an uncertain origin. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom grate on one’s nerves, where it may have come from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

To grate on one’s nerves means to annoy someone or to irritate or disturb someone. The expression grate on one’s nerves calls to mind the image of something rasping or scraping something else, like metal grating on metal. The expression grate on one’s nerves has been in use for some time, but it’s origin is unknown. Related phrases are grates on one’s nerves, grated on one’s nerves, grating on one’s nerves.


Just the mention of Glastonbury was always guaranteed to grate on my nerves. (Guardian)

His accent was quirky and overdone, and after a while grated on my nerves. (Houstonia Magazine)

“What really grated on his nerves was that sometimes Chevy Chase just spoke too slowly,” she said, noting that if you watch scenes with Dangerfield and Chase you can see Dangerfield shifting his weight from foot to foot in jittery fashion. (USA Today)

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