See more synonyms for nettle on
verb (used with object), net·tled, net·tling.
  1. to irritate, annoy, or provoke.
  2. to sting as a nettle does.
  1. grasp the nettle, Australian. to undertake or tackle an unpleasant task.

Origin of nettle

before 900; Middle English; Old English netele (noun); cognate with Dutch netel, German Nessel, Norwegian netla
Related formsnet·tle·like, adjectivenet·tler, nounnet·tly, adjectiveun·net·tled, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for nettled

Historical Examples of nettled

  • "That mare'll beat him," retorted Porter, curtly, nettled by the other's cocksureness.


    W. A. Fraser

  • No doubt from his point of view this notion was natural, but it nettled me.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • But it nettled her that everybody should be so congratulatory, and nobody surprised.

  • A question so unexpected, nettled Solomon Daisy not a little.

    Barnaby Rudge

    Charles Dickens

  • "I did not do it," said Paul, nettled at the charge, and growing red in the face.

    Winning His Way

    Charles Carleton Coffin

British Dictionary definitions for nettled


  1. any weedy plant of the temperate urticaceous genus Urtica, such as U. dioica (stinging nettle), having serrated leaves with stinging hairs and greenish flowers
  2. any of various other urticaceous plants with stinging hairs or spines
  3. any of various plants that resemble urticaceous nettles, such as the dead-nettle, hemp nettle, and horse nettle
  4. grasp the nettle to attempt or approach something with boldness and courage
verb (tr)
  1. to bother; irritate
  2. to sting as a nettle does
Derived Formsnettle-like, adjectivenettly, adjective

Word Origin for nettle

Old English netele; related to Old High German nazza (German Nessel)
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 nettled

"vexed, irritated," c.1400, figurative adjectival use of past participle of nettle (v.).



c.1400, "to beat with nettles," from nettle (n.). Figurative sense of "irritate, provoke" is from 1560s. Related: Nettled; nettling.



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].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper