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noun net·tle \ˈne-təl\

Simple Definition of nettle

  • : a tall plant that has leaves with hairs that sting you if you touch them

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of nettle

  1. 1 :  any of a genus (Urtica of the family Urticaceae, the nettle family) of chiefly coarse herbs armed with stinging hairs

  2. 2 :  any of various prickly or stinging plants other than the true nettles (genus Urtica)

Illustration of nettle

Origin and Etymology of nettle

Middle English, from Old English netel; akin to Old High German nazza nettle, Greek adikē

First Known Use: before 12th century

Other Seed Plant Terms



verb net·tle

Simple Definition of nettle

  • : to make (someone) angry

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of nettle



play \ˈnet-liŋ, ˈne-təl-iŋ\
  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to strike or sting with or as if with nettles

  3. 2 :  to arouse to sharp but transitory annoyance or anger

Examples of nettle in a sentence

  1. The mayor's recent actions have nettled some members of the community.

  2. It nettles him that his younger coworker got a promotion before he did.

Did You Know?

If you've ever brushed against nettles, you know those weeds have sharp bristles that can leave you smarting and itching. The painful and irritating rash that nettles cause can last for days, but at least it is a rash with a linguistic silver lining. The discomfort caused by nettles can serve to remind one that the verb "nettle" is a synonym of "irritate." "Nettle" originated as a plant name that we can trace to the Old English word netel. Eventually, people likened the nagging itch caused by the plant to the nagging aggravation of being annoyed, and "nettle" became a synonym of "vex," "peeve," and of course "irritate."

15th Century

First Known Use of nettle

15th century

Synonym Discussion of nettle

irritate, exasperate, nettle, provoke, rile, peeve mean to excite a feeling of anger or annoyance. irritate implies an often gradual arousing of angry feelings that may range from mere impatience to rage <constant nagging that irritated me greatly>. exasperate suggests galling annoyance and the arousing of extreme impatience <his exasperating habit of putting off needed decisions>. nettle suggests a sharp but passing annoyance or stinging <your pompous attitude nettled several people>. provoke implies an arousing of strong annoyance that may excite to action <remarks made solely to provoke her>. rile implies inducing an angry or resentful agitation <the new work schedules riled the employees>. peeve suggests arousing fretful often petty or querulous irritation <a toddler peeved at being refused a cookie>.

Other Seed Plant Terms

NETTLE Defined for Kids


noun net·tle \ˈne-təl\

Definition of nettle for Students

  1. :  a tall plant with hairs on the leaves that when touched can cause a painful skin rash

Medical Dictionary


noun net·tle \ˈnet-əl\

Medical Definition of nettle

  1. 1:  any plant of the genus Urtica (family Urticaceae, the nettle family)

  2. 2:  any of various prickly or stinging plants other than one of the genus Urtica

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