Idiom:  touch a nerve


Idiom:  hit / touch a (raw) nerve

  • to annoy or irritate someone by talking about a sensitive or upsetting topic.

Example sentences

  • Please don't talk about Sarah’s tonight—you know that touches a raw nerve with Steve.
  • Anytime they talk about how all poor people are lazy and don’t want to work, it really touches a nerve.
  • Mentioning my ex-husband's name still hits a raw nerve.
  • On the anniversary of 911, we have extra counselors available on our hotline because the date touches a raw nerve.
  • My wife had several miscarriages and a still birth so Mother's Day and seeing infants always hit a raw nerve.
  • For my wife, credit card debt really touches a nerve.
  • My husband's expensive golf hobby really touches a raw nerve.
  • I've noticed your swearing touches a raw nerve with your mother.
  • Since my divorce, wedding bells really touch a nerve.
  • President Trump's tweets telling people to "go back where they come from" has really touched a raw nerve with minorities.


  • wind up someone
  • get a rise out of someone
  • get someone's goat
  • drive someone mad
  • give someone grief
  • push/press someone's button
  • rattle someone's cage
  • ruffle someone's feathers

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