Needle vs nettle

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Needle and nettle are two words that are sometimes confused. We will examine the definitions of the words needle and nettle, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

A needle is a slender metal implement used in sewing. A needle is sharp on one end and has an eye on the other end to hold thread. The sharp end of a syringe is also called a needle. The thin pointer on an instrument such as a compass is called a needle, as is the slender leaf of an evergreen tree. When used as a verb, needle may mean to be stuck with a sharp needle, but may also mean to annoy someone. Related words are needles, needled, needling. The word needle is derived from the Old English word nædl.

A nettle is a plant with leaves that have stinging hairs. Often referred to as the stinging nettle, this plant is used for food and medicine. When used as a verb, nettle may also mean to annoy someone. In this sense, the words needle and nettle are interchangeable. Related words are nettles, nettled, nettling. The word nettle is derived from the Old English word netele.


Their latest track is a big indie anthem that the band say “catalogues the joys of dropping the needle on the record and banishing the beasts, demons and woes of every day bedsit life”. (The Independent)

His colleague and former minister Kapil Sibal also needled the government by recalling what BJP leader Smriti Irani had said at the time of the beheading incident during the Congress rule. (The Gulf Times)

Even more so when eating stinging nettles, one of the first uncultivated greens available in the spring, because the memory of our first encounter is burned and blistered into my mind. (The Traverse City Record Eagle)

No one was spared the sharp thrust of his nettling tongue, not even his Ondo kinsmen. (The Nation)