nettle

noun
net·​tle | \ ˈne-tᵊl How to pronounce nettle (audio) \

Definition of nettle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : any of a genus (Urtica of the family Urticaceae, the nettle family) of chiefly coarse herbs armed with stinging hairs … legs, which smarted from the stings of nettles— James Stephens
2 : any of various prickly or stinging plants other than the true nettles (genus Urtica)

nettle

verb
nettled; nettling\ ˈnet-​liŋ How to pronounce nettling (audio) , ˈne-​tᵊl-​iŋ \

Definition of nettle (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to strike or sting with or as if with nettles
2 : to arouse to sharp but transitory annoyance or anger

Illustration of nettle

Illustration of nettle

Noun

nettle 1

In the meaning defined above

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Verb

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

Did You Know?

Verb

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."

Examples of nettle in a Sentence

Verb The mayor's recent actions have nettled some members of the community. It nettles him that his younger coworker got a promotion before he did.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Innovative fashion designers are turning to such things as horseradish and nettles to make sustainable clothing and accessories to the delight of a growing number of buyers. Fortune, "Why Your Next Dress Could Be Made of Horseradish," 30 Dec. 2019 Innovative fashion designers are turning to such things as horseradish and nettles to make sustainable clothing and accessories to the delight of a growing number of buyers. Washington Post, "Innovative fashion designers lead the way on sustainability," 30 Dec. 2019 All of these, some of these, or swap in that pricy Douglas Fir nettle tea you anxiety-bought with a little scotch and go full mountain hermit. Maggie Lange, Bon Appétit, "There's No Better Time to… Make Yourself a Bedtime Elixir," 28 Mar. 2020 Yenzirbo used a makeshift metal digger crafted from an old golf club to point out a four-lobed ginseng plant growing on a steep slope among a mosaic of other medicinal plants—black cohosh, goldenseal, nettle. Greg Kahn, National Geographic, "Demand for ginseng is creating a ‘wild west’ in Appalachia," 9 Jan. 2020 Doing something is a brain-distraction technique that enables you to get up and act, to make ready, to grab the nettle, to shake off denial and paralysis. Belinda Luscombe, Time, "Why Overreacting to the Threat of the Coronavirus May Be Rational," 11 Mar. 2020 Some dishes call for local nettles, mushrooms and ramps. Florence Fabricant, New York Times, "The Secrets of a Catskills Diner," 2 Mar. 2020 The plant grows tightly rooted to steep, rocky hillsides in mountain woodlands thick with snakes and black bears, often in patches of briars and nettles that shred clothing and skin. Greg Kahn, National Geographic, "Demand for ginseng is creating a ‘wild west’ in Appalachia," 9 Jan. 2020 Their latest collection features garments made from nettles, alpaca fleece and recycled plastic from paint tubes. Washington Post, "Innovative fashion designers lead the way on sustainability," 30 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The pastrami dog is on the lunch menu and only nettling the dining room between 11 AM and 9 PM each day. Mike Sula, Chicago Reader, "At 3 Squares Diner there’s a dog that won’t bark," 12 July 2018 Questions about alternative facts and relative truths have been nettling me for decades. Errol Morris, Time, "Why Donald Trump Can't Kill the Truth," 22 May 2018 Shame nettles over Rae’s skull like a tight red cap. Karen Russell, The New Yorker, "Orange World," 4 June 2017 What nettled him was the news media’s unquestioning reiteration of that claim. Margalit Fox, New York Times, "Naomi Parker Fraley, the Real Rosie the Riveter, Dies at 96," 22 Jan. 2018 Gorsuch is a pale imitation of his predecessor, boasting a bratty attitude that has nettled justices across the ideological spectrum. Mark Joseph Stern, Slate Magazine, "Why rumors of a Gorsuch–Kagan clash at the Supreme Court are such a bombshell.," 18 Oct. 2017 Worries about the health of the long-term-care insurance industry have nettled investors for years. Leslie Scism, WSJ, "General Electric Has a Long-Term Care Problem. It Isn’t Alone," 23 Oct. 2017 As a presidential candidate, Mr. Sanders nettled some Jews by making a campaign appearance on Rosh Hashana, a day most Jews take off from work, at Liberty University, an evangelical college in Virginia founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell. Joseph Berger, New York Times, "Bernie Sanders Is Jewish, but He Doesn’t Like to Talk About It," 24 Feb. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nettle.' 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 nettle

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for nettle

Noun and Verb

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

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Time Traveler for nettle

Time Traveler

The first known use of nettle was before the 12th century

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Statistics for nettle

Last Updated

1 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Nettle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nettle. Accessed 27 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for nettle

nettle

noun
How to pronounce nettle (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of nettle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

nettle

verb

English Language Learners Definition of nettle (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make (someone) angry

nettle

noun
net·​tle | \ ˈne-tᵊl How to pronounce nettle (audio) \

Kids Definition of nettle

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

nettle

noun
net·​tle | \ ˈnet-ᵊl How to pronounce nettle (audio) \

Medical Definition of nettle

1 : any plant of the genus Urtica (family Urticaceae, the nettle family)
2 : any of various prickly or stinging plants other than one of the genus Urtica

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More from Merriam-Webster on nettle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nettle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with nettle

Spanish Central: Translation of nettle

Nglish: Translation of nettle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about nettle

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