From Middle English, from Old English netle, netele, netel, from Proto-Germanic *natilǭ (cognate with Old Saxon netila, Middle Dutch netele (modern Dutch netel), German Nessel, Middle Danish nædlæ (“nettle”)), a diminutive of *natǭ (of unknown origin, perhaps from the same source as net).
nettle (plural nettles)
- Any plant, the foliage of which is covered with stinging, mildly poisonous hairs, causing an instant rash.
- Especially, most species of herb genus Urtica, the stinging nettles:
- Wood nettle (Laportea canadensis);
- Bull nettles and spurge nettles of genus Cnidoscolus:
- rock nettle (Eucnide);
- small-leaved nettle (Dendrocnide photinophylla).
- Certain plants that have spines or prickles:
- Certain non-stinging plants, mostly in the same family (Lamiaceae as the stinging nettles, that resemble the species of Urtica:
- dead nettle, dumb nettle (Lamium), particularly Lamium album, white nettle;
- false nettle (Boehmeria);
- flame nettle or painted nettle (Coleus);
- hedge nettle (Stachys);
- hemp nettle (Galeopsis);
- horse nettles:
- nilgiri nettle, Himalayan giant nettle (Girardinia diversifolia).
- Loosely, anything which causes a similarly stinging rash, such as a jellyfish or sea nettle.
- (literally) Of the nettle plant and similar physical causes, to sting causing a rash in someone.
- The children were badly nettled after playing in the field.
- (figuratively) To pique, irritate, vex or provoke someone.
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