a plant, Nepeta cataria, of the mint family, having egg-shaped leaves containing aromatic oils that are a cat attractant.

Also especially British, catmint.

Origin of catnip

1705–15, Americanism; cat + nip, variant of Middle English nep catnip, apocopated variant of Old English nepte < Medieval Latin nepta, variant of Latin nepeta Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for catnip

Contemporary Examples of catnip

Historical Examples of catnip

  • On the homeward way they turned into a lane and came to a clump of catnip.

    A Night Out

    Edward Peple

  • The newspapers pounced on them with joy, as cats pounce and purr on catnip.

    In a Little Town

    Rupert Hughes

  • Catnip may be cultivated for the bees and sold as an herb as well.

    Agriculture for Beginners

    Charles William Burkett

  • It was like throwing a cat into a bed of catnip and expecting him to be calm.

  • The sight of a snowstorm affects a child as the smell of catnip affects a cat.


    Dallas Lore Sharp

British Dictionary definitions for catnip



another name for catmint
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for catnip

1712, American English, from cat (n.) + nip, from Old English nepte "catnip," from Latin nepta, name of an aromatic herb. The older name is Middle English catmint (mid-13c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper