Definition of nettle in English:

nettle

noun

  • 1A herbaceous plant which has jagged leaves covered with stinging hairs.

    • ‘These so-called host plants include many broadleaf weeds and cover crops such as nettles, mallow, chicory, dandelion, thistles, bindweed, deadly nightshade, and many clovers.’
    • ‘But the beauty of most edible plants - nettles, dandelions, alexanders, fat hen, sorrel - is that they are so prolific they are considered a nuisance.’
    • ‘Docken, like dandelion, nettle, ground elder, bindweed and couch-grass belongs to that troublesome group of wild flowers called perennial weeds.’
    • ‘Almost everyone is familiar with the nettle through its formidable sting, but few know about the important role it plays in the natural world.’
    • ‘For instance, there are botanical-based hair colorants rich in herbs such as nettle, sage, red sorrel, rosemary and burdock.’
    1. 1.1 Used in names of other plants with leaves of a similar appearance to those of the nettle, e.g. dead-nettle.
      • ‘Flea beetles also feed on many nongarden plants, including Virginia creeper, pokeweed, horse nettle, pigweed and wild mustard family plants.’
      • ‘Dead nettles are ground cover perennials with leaves that are marked in silver.’

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1Irritate or annoy (someone)

    ‘‘I was only asking,’ Jess said, nettled’
    • ‘It was probably your first time trying to act authoritative, since he nettled you so.’
    • ‘O'Brian himself was always nettled by the inevitable comparison of his own works with CS Forester's Hornblower saga.’
    • ‘Ray Bradbury, author of sci-fi novel Fahrenheit 451, is nettled at Moore's twist on his classic title.’
    • ‘In conclusion, the inspector offered his resignation to the Board, being much nettled by an accusation of incompetence in the London papers.’
    • ‘Working as an activist outside India, one of the issues that nettled Bose, she says, was the painful question of identity that racks second-generation youth.’
    • ‘Europe - both EU members and candidate countries - has split into two camps on the issue, lining up behind either France or Britain, at the risk of nettling the other.’
    • ‘What will also nettle Waugh is Ricky Ponting's success as Australia's new one-day skipper.’
    • ‘That sorta nettled him a bit, but then he suddenly noticed Bridget was there, seemingly on her own.’
    • ‘So it nettles me a little bit for people to question her qualifications.’
    • ‘Studios are understandably nettled by deals like these because they enable stars in some cases to earn more than the studio.’
    • ‘I understood that Zannah was upset, and she had her reasons, but the cause of the effect didn't lie in my hands, and the way she was acting nettled me.’
    • ‘Ninkovich will nettle critics of imperialism.’
    • ‘As irksome as they found RFE's balloon operations, the radio broadcasts nettled communist officials even more.’
    • ‘Apparently you'll be able to tolerate me nettling you then, huh?’
    • ‘I am nettled by this, and, refusing his attentions walk off into the surf squaring my shoulders.’
    • ‘A thought kept hammering over and over in his head, sort of a worry that kept nettling him.’
    • ‘One remark of Don's, however, nettled me for its pre-emptive protecting of the poet.’
    • ‘But it's clear that some of the more caustic comments about them continue to nettle Mik Pyro.’
    • ‘Perhaps it nettled me so much because it was so close to the truth.’
    • ‘Zimbabwe's ongoing political crisis again nettled Southern African leaders, who were wrapping up a two-day summit here yesterday.’
    irritated, annoyed, cross, put out, irked, galled, vexed, exasperated, infuriated
    irritate, annoy, irk, gall, vex, anger, exasperate, infuriate, bother, provoke
    View synonyms
  • 2archaic Sting with nettles.

    • ‘I had to get into the hedge-back to take this and nettled my legs.’
    • ‘The weeds on either side had been cut during the last few days, otherwise I suspect my legs would have been badly nettled.’

Phrases

  • grasp the nettle

    • Tackle a difficulty boldly.

      • ‘Still, grasping the nettle like this is probably his only chance, slim though it is.’
      • ‘We have not grasped the nettle and got down to reorganising how our services are delivered - 99 per cent of staff want to do that but we haven't been able to.’
      • ‘I think the Government has really grasped the nettle, because this is a major issue for everybody now.’
      • ‘Tackling mental health, grasping the nettle of introducing rights-based legislation will come at a cost.’
      • ‘They have had ten years to see it coming and, if they had only grasped the nettle, providing separate areas and adequate ventilation, all could have co-existed in relative peace and mutual comfort.’
      • ‘He warned the country could be facing another crisis unless the next Government grasps the nettle of public spending.’
      • ‘He said: ‘I am pleased that the Prime Minister is now re-examining my proposals but we shall see whether the Government really grasps the nettle regarding this issue.’’
      • ‘But she said: ‘I cannot accept the fact that no one grasped the nettle and took charge of clarifying the issue.’’
      • ‘The problems facing it will only get worse until someone grasps the nettle.’
      • ‘The new parish council is grasping the nettle to deal with vandalism.’

Origin

Old English netle, netele, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch netel and German Nessel. The verb dates from late Middle English.

Pronunciation

nettle

/ˈnɛt(ə)l/