catnip

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See also: cat-nip and cat nip

English[edit]

Nepeta cataria flowers
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Etymology[edit]

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

Noun[edit]

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.
  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.
    Some cats go bonkers over catnip; others ignore it.
  3. (figuratively) Something that causes stupor
    • 2016 October 24, Owen Gibson, “Is the unthinkable happening – are people finally switching the football off?”, in The Guardian[1], 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.

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