verb (used with object), stung or (Obsolete) stang; stung; sting·ing.

  1. to prick or wound with a sharp-pointed, often venom-bearing organ.
  2. to affect painfully or irritatingly as a result of contact, as certain plants do: to be stung by nettles.
  3. to cause to smart or to cause a sharp pain: The blowing sand stung his eyes.
  4. to cause mental or moral anguish: to be stung with remorse.
  5. to goad or drive, as by sharp irritation.
  6. Slang. to cheat or take advantage of, especially to overcharge; soak.

verb (used without object), stung or (Obsolete) stang; stung; sting·ing.

  1. to use, have, or wound with a sting, as bees.
  2. to cause a sharp, smarting pain, as some plants, an acrid liquid or gas, or a slap or hit.
  3. to cause acute mental pain or irritation, as annoying thoughts or one’s conscience: The memory of that insult still stings.
  4. to feel acute mental pain or irritation: He was stinging from the blow to his pride.
  5. to feel a smarting pain, as from a blow or the sting of an insect.


  1. an act or an instance of stinging.
  2. a wound, pain, or smart caused by stinging.
  3. any sharp physical or mental wound, hurt, or pain.
  4. anything or an element in anything that wounds, pains, or irritates: to feel the sting of defeat; Death, where is thy sting?
  5. capacity to wound or pain: Satire has a sting.
  6. a sharp stimulus or incitement: driven by the sting of jealousy; the sting of ambition.
  7. Botany. a glandular hair on certain plants, as nettles, that emits an irritating fluid.
  8. Zoology. any of various sharp-pointed, often venom-bearing organs of insects and other animals capable of inflicting painful or dangerous wounds.
  9. Slang.
    1. confidence game.
    2. an ostensibly illegal operation, as the buying of stolen goods or the bribing of public officials, used by undercover investigators to collect evidence of wrongdoing.

verb stings, stinging or stung

  1. (of certain animals and plants) to inflict a wound on (an organism) by the injection of poison
  2. to feel or cause to feel a sharp mental or physical pain
  3. (tr) to goad or incite (esp in the phrase sting into action)
  4. (tr) informal to cheat, esp by overcharging


  1. a skin wound caused by the poison injected by certain insects or plants
  2. pain caused by or as if by the sting of a plant or animal
  3. a mental pain or panga sting of conscience
  4. a sharp pointed organ, such as the ovipositor of a wasp, by which poison can be injected into the prey
  5. the ability to stinga sharp sting in his criticism
  6. something as painful or swift of action as a stingthe sting of death
  7. a sharp stimulus or incitement
  8. botany another name for stinging hair
  9. slang a swindle or fraud
  10. slang a trap set up by the police to entice a person to commit a crime and thereby produce evidence
  11. sting in the tail an unexpected and unpleasant ending

v.Old English stingan “to prick with a small point” (of weapons, insects, plants, etc.), from Proto-Germanic *stenganan (cf. Old Norse stinga, Old High German stungen “to prick,” Gothic us-stagg “to prick out,” Old High German stanga, German stange “pole, perch,” German stengel “stalk, stem”), from PIE *stengh-, nasalized form of root *stegh- “to prick, sting” (cf. Old English stagga “stag,” Greek stokhos “pointed stake”). Specialized to insects late 15c. Slang meaning “to cheat, swindle” is from 1812. n.Old English stincg, steng “act of stinging, stinging pain,” from the root of sting (v.). Meaning “carefully planned theft or robbery” is attested from 1930; sense of “police undercover entrapment” first attested 1975. v.

  1. To pierce or wound painfully with or as if with a sharp-pointed structure or organ, as that of certain insects.
  2. To introduce venom by stinging.
  3. To cause to feel a sharp smarting pain by or as if by pricking with a sharp point.


  1. The act of stinging.
  2. The wound or pain caused by or as if by stinging.
  3. The venom apparatus of a stinging organism.

see take the sting out of.

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