cat·nip | \-ˌnip \

Definition of catnip 

1 : a strong-scented perennial mint (Nepeta cataria) that has whorls of small pale flowers in terminal spikes and contains a substance attractive to cats

2 : something very attractive

Examples of catnip in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Reggie made his way to a catnip plant and nibbled away. Morgan Greene,, "Reggie the runaway cat, at the center of court custody battle, is back home in Logan Square," 28 June 2018 The lovely kitty cat loves to play with different kinds of toys but is especially fond of feather toys and ones that have catnip in them. Arizona Republic, azcentral, "Adopt a dog or cat from metro Phoenix shelters this week," 5 July 2018 Attract this flying insect by planting catnip, goldenrod, and hydrangea. The Editors Of Organic Life, Good Housekeeping, "10 Insects You Should Actually Want Around Your Plants," 11 May 2016 All of this is understandable catnip to the newspaper critic. Mark Swed,, "A little operatic help for newspapers: ‘La Gazzetta’ couldn't be better timed," 30 June 2018 Their tour is catnip for those who like their music guitar-driven and contemplative but still easy to nod along to. New York Times, "12 Pop, Rock and Jazz Concerts to Check Out in N.Y.C. This Weekend," 14 June 2018 Delicious treats like basil, lemon balm, catnip, and lavender are garden delights, often perennials, and keep away horrible pests. Rebecca Kurson, Good Housekeeping, "10 Genius Tips For Dog-Proofing Your Garden," 17 Jan. 2018 Small wonder such characters have also long been catnip to great authors; making people believe in your stories is, after all, precisely what novelists—and actors—do. Daniel Mendelsohn, Town & Country, "How Notorious White-Collar Criminals Use Their Friends and Social Connections," 4 Nov. 2016 At nearby Bernardus Lodge and Spa, Chef Cal Stamenov keeps three hives in a purple lavender, catnip, and echium garden on the property, and uses the honey in dishes at Lucia Restaurant and Bar. Nathan Hurst, San Francisco Chronicle, "Monterey is California’s honey hub," 30 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'catnip.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of catnip

1712, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for catnip

cat entry 1 + obsolete nep catnip, from Middle English, from Old English nepte, from Latin nepeta

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Statistics for catnip

Last Updated

3 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for catnip

The first known use of catnip was in 1712

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More Definitions for catnip



English Language Learners Definition of catnip

: a type of mint that has a strong smell which is attractive to cats


cat·nip | \ˈkat-ˌnip \

Kids Definition of catnip

: a plant that is a mint with a smell especially attractive to cats


cat·nip | \-ˌnip \
variants: also catnep \-ˌnep, -nəp \

Medical Definition of catnip 

1 : a strong-scented mint (Nepeta cataria) that has small pale flowers in terminal spikes and contains a substance attractive to cats

called also cataria, catmint

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Comments on catnip

What made you want to look up catnip? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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