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See also: cat-nip and cat nip



Compound of cat +‎ Middle English nep, from Old English nepte, from Latin nepeta.



catnip (countable and uncountable, plural catnips)

  1. Any of the about 250 species of flowering plant of the genus Nepeta, family Lamiaceae, certain of which are said to have medicinal qualities.
    Synonyms: catmint, catwort
  2. Nepeta cataria and Nepeta grandiflora (and perhaps other species), which are well-known for causing an apparently harmless pheromone-based intoxication among certain cats.
    Coordinate term: silver vine
    Some cats go bonkers over catnip; others ignore it.
    • 2021 January 20, Sofia Moutinho, “Why cats are crazy for catnip”, in Science[1], DOI:doi:10.1126/science.abg6551:
      But exactly how catnip—and a substitute, known as silver vine—produce this feline high has long been a mystery. Now, a study suggests the key intoxicating chemicals in the plants activate cats’ opioid systems much like heroin and morphine do in people.
  3. (figuratively) Something that causes excitement or interest.
    • 2016 October 24, Owen Gibson, “Is the unthinkable happening – are people finally switching the football off?”, in The Guardian[2], London:
      Since Rupert Murdoch famously bet the farm on Premier League football to rescue Sky TV in 1991, it has been the catnip that has underpinned subscriber loyalty and, even in a far more complicated media landscape, is seen as so vital as to be worth almost any price.
    • 2019 September 14, Elizabeth Paton, “A Fashion/Food Blowout in the Shadow of Brexit”, in New York Times[3]:
      This hot new Shoreditch trattoria already is catnip for the style set.


Further reading[edit]




catnip m (plural catnips)

  1. catnip