1. any plant of the genus Urtica, covered with stinging hairs.Compare nettle family.
  2. any of various allied or similar plants.

verb (used with object), net·tled, net·tling.

  1. to irritate, annoy, or provoke.
  2. to sting as a nettle does.


  1. grasp the nettle, Australian. to undertake or tackle an unpleasant task.


  1. any weedy plant of the temperate urticaceous genus Urtica, such as U. dioica (stinging nettle), having serrated leaves with stinging hairs and greenish flowers
  2. any of various other urticaceous plants with stinging hairs or spines
  3. any of various plants that resemble urticaceous nettles, such as the dead-nettle, hemp nettle, and horse nettle
  4. grasp the nettle to attempt or approach something with boldness and courage

verb (tr)

  1. to bother; irritate
  2. to sting as a nettle does

adj.“vexed, irritated,” c.1400, figurative adjectival use of past participle of nettle (v.). v.c.1400, “to beat with nettles,” from nettle (n.). Figurative sense of “irritate, provoke” is from 1560s. Related: Nettled; nettling. n.stinging plant, Old English netele, from Proto-Germanic *natilon (cf. Old Saxon netila, Middle Dutch netele, Dutch netel, German Nessel, M.Da. nædlæ “nettle”), diminutive of *naton, perhaps from PIE root *ned- “to twist, knot” (see net (n.)). “[N]ettles or plants of closely related genera such as hemp were used as a source of fiber” [Watkins].

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