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Urtica dioica
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From Middle English netle, netel, 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 Proto-Germanic *natǭ (of unknown origin, perhaps from the same source as net).



nettle (plural nettles)

  1. Any plant whose foliage is covered with stinging, mildly poisonous hairs, causing an instant rash.
    1. Especially, most species of herb genus Urtica, the stinging nettles:
      1. Most, but not all, subspecies of Urtica dioica,
      2. Urtica incisa;
    2. Wood nettle (Laportea canadensis);
    3. Bull nettles and spurge nettles of genus Cnidoscolus:
      1. Cnidoscolus stimulosus, bull nettle, spurge nettle,
      2. Cnidoscolus texanus, Texas bull nettle,
      3. Cnidoscolus urens, bull nettle,
      4. Nettle trees or tree nettles:
        1. Various species of the genus Dendrocnide,
        2. Urera baccifera,
        3. Urtica ferox;
    4. rock nettle (Eucnide);
    5. small-leaved nettle (Dendrocnide photinophylla).
  2. Certain plants that have spines or prickles:
    1. ball nettle (Solanum carolinense);
    2. Solanum elaeagnifolium, bull nettle, silver-leaf nettle, white horse-nettle;
    3. Solanum dimidiatum, western horse-nettle, robust horse-nettle;
    4. Solanum rostratum, horse-nettle;
    5. Celtis.
  3. Certain non-stinging plants, mostly in the family Lamiaceae, that resemble the species of Urtica:
    1. dead nettle, dumb nettle (Lamium), particularly Lamium album, white nettle;
    2. false nettle (Boehmeria, family Urticaceae);
    3. flame nettle or painted nettle (Coleus);
    4. hedge nettle (Stachys);
    5. hemp nettle (Galeopsis);
    6. horse nettle Agastache urticifolia,
    7. nilgiri nettle, Himalayan giant nettle (Girardinia diversifolia, family Urticaceae).
  4. Loosely, anything which causes a similarly stinging rash, such as a jellyfish or sea nettle.

Derived terms[edit]



nettle (third-person singular simple present nettles, present participle nettling, simple past and past participle nettled) (transitive)

  1. (transitive) 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.
    • c. 1597, William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1, Act I, Scene 3,[1]
      [] I am whipp’d and scourged with rods,
      Nettled and stung with pismires, when I hear
      Of this vile politician, Bolingbroke.
  2. (transitive, figuratively) To pique, irritate, vex or provoke.
    • 1679, Aphra Behn, The Feign’d Curtizans, London: Jacob Tonson, Act V, Scene 1, p. ,[2]
      His Mistress: whose Mistress, what Mistress; s’life how that little word has nettled me!
    • 1741, Samuel Richardson, Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded, London: C. Rivington & J. Osborn, 2nd edition, Volume I, Letter 31, p. 212,[3]
      I saw Mr. Williams was a little nettled at my Impatience []
    • 1985, United States. Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Daily Report: People's Republic of China (issues 180-189, page 42)
      Liu, whose political writings had nettled the Taiwanese authorities, was assassinated on October 15, last year, in Daly City []


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