[ net-l ]
See synonyms for nettle on
  1. any plant of the genus Urtica, covered with stinging hairs.: Compare nettle family.

  2. any of various allied or similar plants.

verb (used with object),net·tled, net·tling.
  1. to irritate, annoy, or provoke.

  2. to sting as a nettle does.

Idioms about nettle

  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

Other words from nettle

  • net·tle·like, adjective
  • nettler, noun
  • nettly, adjective
  • un·net·tled, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use nettle in a sentence

  • She locks the door behind them, and throws the key among the nettles that grew in a thick grove at her right.

    Checkmate | Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
  • The advance was through nettles and briers, up steep muddy banks and over fallen timber.

    A Virginia Scout | Hugh Pendexter
  • He saw beneath him a descent of some ten feet, and at the bottom a dense bed of stinging nettles.

  • The thicker the undergrowth of nettles and wild parsley, rushes and rough grasses, the more the whitethroat likes the spot.

    The Hills and the Vale | Richard Jefferies
  • The path then becomes narrow and steep, and encumbered with brambles and nettles and stones.

    The Science of Fairy Tales | Edwin Sidney Hartland

British Dictionary definitions for nettle


/ (ˈnɛtəl) /

  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

  1. any of various plants that resemble urticaceous nettles, such as the dead-nettle, hemp nettle, and horse nettle

  2. grasp the nettle to attempt or approach something with boldness and courage

  1. to bother; irritate

  2. to sting as a nettle does

Origin of nettle

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

Derived forms of nettle

  • nettle-like, adjective
  • nettly, adjective

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