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)


nettled; nettling\ ˈnet-​liŋ How to pronounce nettle (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


nettle 1

In the meaning defined above

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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.

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 Another ingredient people claim helps with their allergies is nettle leaf tea. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, 24 June 2022 Improve the evenness of your skin tone, minimize dark spots and keep skin moisturized with nourishing ingredients like jojoba oil, nettle, red raspberry, alfalfa and spilanthes extract. Grooming Playbook, The Salt Lake Tribune, 7 June 2022 Whether preparing nettle soup, liaising with the Police Nationale or reading boar scat, Bruno remains focused and efficient. Washington Post, 16 Apr. 2022 So do the grains in a seasonal nettle risotto with asparagus, mushrooms, and ricotta salata. Globe Staff,, 7 June 2022 Charlotte’s Web Skin Health and Allergy Support Chews are high-quality, full-spectrum hemp extracts that include biotin, nettle leaf, burdock root, and marshmallow root to support dogs with sensitive skin. The Salt Lake Tribune, 22 May 2022 Low-growing plants often used as ground covers include Canadian wild-ginger, sweet woodruff, bishop’s wort (Epimedium) and spotted dead-nettle (Lamium maculatum). Beth Botts, Chicago Tribune, 15 May 2022 Eventually, a sweet clover, Bloody Butcher corn and black bee honey cake dressed with calendulas appeared, along with steaming cups of Spring Equinox tea, a custom blend of nettle, cleavers, dandelion leaf and Plantago that Coleman conceived. New York Times, 11 May 2022 This ingredient is also great for adding shine alongside the formula’s nettle extract. Grooming Playbook, The Salt Lake Tribune, 9 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Gorky’s privileged presence began to nettle Stalin. Algis Valiunas, National Review, 31 Mar. 2022 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, 12 July 2018 Questions about alternative facts and relative truths have been nettling me for decades. Errol Morris, Time, 22 May 2018 Shame nettles over Rae’s skull like a tight red cap. Karen Russell, The New Yorker, 4 June 2017 What nettled him was the news media’s unquestioning reiteration of that claim. Margalit Fox, New York Times, 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, 18 Oct. 2017 Worries about the health of the long-term-care insurance industry have nettled investors for years. Leslie Scism, WSJ, 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, 24 Feb. 2016 See More

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.

First Known Use of nettle


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


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

Learn More About nettle

Time Traveler for nettle

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast About nettle

Dictionary Entries Near nettle



nettle butterfly

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for nettle

Last Updated

12 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Nettle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for nettle


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


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

More from Merriam-Webster on nettle

Nglish: Translation of nettle for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about nettle


Test Your Vocabulary

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!