1

nettle

noun net·tle \ ˈne-tᵊl \
Updated on: 9 Nov 2017

Definition of nettle

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)

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Recent Examples of nettle from the Web

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.

Illustration of nettle

Origin and Etymology of nettle

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

Other Seed Plant Terms


2

nettle

verb

Definition of nettle

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

Recent Examples of nettle from the Web

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.

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."

Origin and Etymology of nettle

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 English Language Learners

nettle

noun

Definition of nettle for English Language Learners

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


nettle

verb

Definition of nettle for English Language Learners

  • : to make (someone) angry


NETTLE Defined for Kids

nettle

noun net·tle \ ˈne-tᵊl \

Definition of nettle for Students

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

Medical Dictionary

nettle

noun net·tle \ ˈnet-ᵊl \

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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