nettle (n.)

"herbaceous plant of the genus Urtica, armed with stinging hairs" (also used of other plants of the genus and of nettle-like plants, generally with a qualifying word), Middle English netle, from Old English netele, from Proto-Germanic *natilon (source also of Old Saxon netila, Middle Dutch netele, Dutch netel, German Nessel, Danish nædlæ "nettle"), diminutive of *nato-, of unknown origin, perhaps from PIE root *ned- "to bind, tie." "[N]ettles or plants of closely related genera such as hemp were used as a source of fiber" [Watkins].

nettle (v.)

c. 1400, netlen, "to apply nettles, to beat with nettles," from nettle (n.). Figurative sense of "irritate, provoke" is from c. 1400 (implied in nettled). Related: Nettling; nettler.

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