- any plant of the genus Urtica, covered with stinging hairs.Compare nettle family.
- any of various allied or similar plants.
- to irritate, annoy, or provoke.
- to sting as a nettle does.
- grasp the nettle, Australian. to undertake or tackle an unpleasant task.
Origin of nettle
Examples from the Web for nettle
Better be a nettle in the side of your friend than his echo.Essays, First Series
Ralph Waldo Emerson
He had his cattle and his wild pot-herbs, such as the mugwort and the nettle.Leading Articles on Various Subjects
She drew a long breath of desperation and grasped the nettle firmly.Nobody
Louis Joseph Vance
Then she bruised every nettle with her bare feet and plaited the green flax.
Mullein and nettle, henbane and wormwood, all are English emigrants.Home Life in Colonial Days
Alice Morse Earle
- any weedy plant of the temperate urticaceous genus Urtica, such as U. dioica (stinging nettle), having serrated leaves with stinging hairs and greenish flowers
- any of various other urticaceous plants with stinging hairs or spines
- any of various plants that resemble urticaceous nettles, such as the dead-nettle, hemp nettle, and horse nettle
- grasp the nettle to attempt or approach something with boldness and courage
- to bother; irritate
- to sting as a nettle does
Word Origin and History for nettle
stinging plant, Old English netele, from Proto-Germanic *natilon (cf. Old Saxon netila, Middle Dutch netele, Dutch netel, German Nessel, M.Da. nædlæ "nettle"), diminutive of *naton, perhaps from PIE root *ned- "to twist, knot" (see net (n.)). "[N]ettles or plants of closely related genera such as hemp were used as a source of fiber" [Watkins].