grasp the nettle

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From the short-term skin irritation caused by the stinging nettle.

Verb[edit]

grasp the nettle

  1. (idiomatic) To act boldly, especially when there are short-term adverse consequences.
    • 1886, "London's Recent Rioting," New York Times, 22 Feb., p. 5 (retrieved 18 Aug. 2010):
      Hence it was that a few dozen policemen, resolutely grasping the nettle, had no difficulty in handling it.
    • 1951, "From Today's Times," Ottawa Citizen (Canada), 30 April, p. 2 (retrieved 18 Aug. 2010):
      President Truman, when at last he grasped the nettle and dismissed MacArthur, knew well enough the outcry that would follow.
    • 2007, "Brown's Britain: taking the nuclear option," telegraph.co.uk, 24 May (retrieved 18 Aug. 2010):
      That Tony Blair should wait until the dying days of his premiership before grasping the nettle of nuclear expansion has proved dangerously neglectful.

Related terms[edit]