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Search engines seem to understand "nerve system" just fine, but most results seem to use "nervous system".

Is "nerve system" a synonym for "nervous system" or is it somehow unacceptable? And if these are synonyms, why the strong preference for "nervous system"?

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why the strong preference for "nervous system"?

The usual terminology is "nervous system".

nerv·ous sys·tem
/ˈnərvəs ˌsistəm/
noun
the network of nerve cells and fibers that transmits nerve impulses between parts of the body.

The reason that search engines understand "nerve system" (an incorrect term), is because they correlate forms of a word (jump, jumped, jumping) into a single entry to facilitate searches.

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