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

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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

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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 Suhosine mulberry tree: Not a mulberry but a nettle relative that produces a small, mulberry-esque fruit that tastes similar to strawberries. oregonlive, 11 Aug. 2021 Since the Paris Agreement was struck, Wood Mackenzie has advocated that all oil and gas companies to grasp the nettle. Wood Mackenzie, Forbes, 3 June 2021 There are zinnias, daylilies, coral bells, hostas, different kinds of sedum, spotted dead nettle (lamium), vinca, thyme, sage and oregano. Joanne Kempinger Demski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 9 July 2021 But under the biodynamic regimen, Maya has started applying a stinging-nettle tonic to the grapes when a heat spike begins. Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, 12 June 2021 Fried in a translucent tempura batter, a wild nettle leaf seems preserved in glass. Soleil Ho, San Francisco Chronicle, 18 June 2021 Leaves on the giant stinging tree of eastern Australia (a nettle capable of growing to 40 meters) last only four to six months; nearly half of the tree’s leaf-area disappears into the maw of the single beetle species that is impervious to its sting. Rebecca Giggs, The Atlantic, 17 June 2021 For his bearded clients, White suggests cleansing with a special beard wash, like Scotch Porter’s ultra-moisturizing cleanser, which hydrates the beard area with aloe, burdock root, and nettle leaf. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, 14 June 2021 While expecting moms will love the milk production-stimulating New Mama chocolate, which contains hormone-balancing moringa and nettle leaf. Anna Haines, Forbes, 5 May 2021 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, 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

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


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

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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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Dictionary Entries Near nettle



nettle butterfly

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Last Updated

24 Aug 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nettle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for nettle



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



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

: to make (someone) angry


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


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