English Wikipedia has an article on:


From Latin nōlī tangere (literally do not touch me), as said by Jesus to Mary Magdalene in the Latin Vulgate version of John 20:17. The other senses are expansions to this prohibition, such as diseases whose symptoms should not be touched since handling the swellings could exacerbate the disease, plants which discharge upon being touched, or simple prohibitions.


  • IPA(key): /ˌnoʊlaɪ miː ˈtænd͡ʒəɹiː/, /ˌnoʊliː meɪ ˈtænd͡ʒəɹeɪ/, /ˌnoʊliː meɪ ˈtɑŋɡəɹeɪ/
  This entry needs audio files. If you have a microphone, please record some and upload them. (For audio required quickly, visit WT:APR.)


noli-me-tangere (countable and uncountable, plural noli-me-tangeres)

  1. (medicine, obsolete) Lupus.
    • 1893, Journal of Cutaneous Diseases Including Syphilis:
      I think active cases of lupus are better let alone, they are noli me tangeres.
  2. (medicine, obsolete) A growth or cancer on the face.
    • 1869, James VI of Scotland, I of England, The Essays of a Prentise, in the Divine Art of Poesie, page 83:
      The same Maister Nicot, hauing caused the said hearb to be set in his Garden, where it grewe and multiplied maruellously was vppon a time aduertised, by one of his Pages, that a young man, of kinne to that Page made asaye of that hearbe brused both the hearbe and the Iuice together vppon an vlcer, which he had vpon his cheeke neere vnto his nose, comming of a Noli me tangere, which began to take roote already at the gristles of the Nose, wherewith hee founde himselfe meruellously eased.
  3. Any of various plants that, when ripe, discharge their seeds when touched. Especially:
    1. Some plants of the genus Impatiens.
      • 1778, Thomas Mawe, The Universal Gardener and Botanist:
        There are only two species of this genera usually cultivated in the English gardens, both annuals; one is the Noli me tangere, or Touch-me-not, esteemed more for the singularity of it's elastic capsules than beauty of its flowers []
    2. The squirting cucumber.
      • 1725, Noel Chomel, Dictionaire oeconomique:
        Now sow the wild spirting Cucumber, and the Noli me tangere in the natural Ground; they are diverting Plants when their Fruit is full ripe.
      • 1728, Richard Bradley, ‎T. Woodward, ‎J. Peele, Dictionarium Botanicum:
        ...growing somewhat like a Cucumber trailing upon the Ground, and bringing a beautiful Fruit, some of an Orange Colour and others almost black fill'd with red Seeds; this Fruit, when it is full ripe, cracks with a great Spring; so that the Rind is rent to Pieces and the Seed is scatter'd abroad: I have seen twenty Fuits burst in a Quarter of an Hour, and tearing in different Manners, appear'd like so many strange Flowers of different Sorts; this may be properly said to be a Noli-me-Tangere; it requires an Hotbed, and to be kept very warm to ripen the Fruit; they have two or three Sorts in the Amsterdam Gardens;
      • 1778, Thomas Mawe, The Universal Gardener and Botanist:
        This species is one of the Noli me tangere, or Touch-me-not kinds,for upon handling the ripe fruit, it instantly bursts with elastic violence, and discharge its juice and seeds with amazing force all around a great distance, often causing consternation to strangers who happen to touch them.
  4. (Christianity) A picture showing Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene.
    • 1813 -, John Britton, The Beauties of England and Wales:
      In a compartment over the communion-table is an estimable picture ; a noli me tangere, by Mengs, who painted it at Rome, and parted with it to the college for three hundred guineas.
    • 1901, John Denison Champlin, The Young Folks' Cyclopædia of Literature and Art, page 335:
      Noted “ Noli Me Tangeres " are by Correggio and by Titian in the Madrid Museum, and by Titian in the National Gallery, London.
    • 192?, The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, Volume 65, Issue 76, page 15:
      If we were to re-construct the composition of a Noli Me Tangere by the young Titian, then I think we should assume that the meeting would take place in a landscape of purely ornamental character, as in the Baptism with Giovanni Ram.
    • 2002, Nathaniel Hawthorne, ‎Susan Manning, The Marble Faun, page 262:
      Half of the other pictures are Magdalens, Flights into Egypt, Crucifixions, Depositions from the Cross, Pietàs, Noli-me-tangeres, or the Sacrifice of Abraham, or Martyrdoms of Saints, originally painted as...
    • 2008, Allen Russo, Rufus of Rhodes Volume II: Marching with the Legions:
      He studied a tapestry on one wall of a noli me tangere wrought by a craftsman whose signature was illegible.
    • 2012, Anne Dillon, Michelangelo and the English Martyrs, page 91:
      Vasari notes the commission thus: 'For the Marquis del Vasto, moreover, he made the Cartoon of a noli me tangere painted by Pontormo'.
    • 2017, Erin E. Benay, Faith, Gender and the Senses in Italian Renaissance and Baroque Art, page 84:
      In particular, the color helps meld together the more recognizable public Magdalene—the beata peccatrix—with the Magdalene as the first witness. In this case, the result is a Noli me tangere that is not fraught with troubling ambiguity.
  5. A warning to avoid.
    • 1806, Beresford, Miseries, page 219:
      Every dish, as it is brought in, carrying a noli me tangere on the face of it.
    • 1865, W. Wood, New Englands Prospectus, page 24:
      The Porcupine is a small thing not unlike a Hedgehog; something bigger, who stands upon his guard and proclaims a noli me tangere, to man and beast that shall approach too neare him.
    • 2012, Jace R. Broadhurst, What Is the Literal Sense?:, page 33:
      These difficulties, that are in Scripture, which indeed are not a few,—are not a “noli me tangere,” to drive us from the study of the Scriptures, as the inference would be made,—but they are of another kind of aim and tendency.
  6. Something to be avoided, such as a taboo topic or painful experience.
    • 1726, Walter Moyle, ‎Thomas Sarjeant, The works of Walter Moyle, page 257-258:
      If he was so exact in his History of the Church of Rome, why do Mr. Dodwell and his Friends reject his Authority, in his Accounts of the Government, and Disipline of his own See, which he had best Reason to be well inform'd of? But that's a Noli me tangere.
    • 1779, Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker:
      This precious aunt of yours is become insensibly a part of my constitution -- Damn her! She's a noli me tangere in my flesh, which I cannot bear to be touched or tampered with.
    • 1816, Sir Egerton Brydges, Restituta:
      Publish'd he would have them (according to the erratas of his life) in folio: but so indigested are his collections, and so illaborate his style, as the stationer shunnes them, like a noli me tangere, fearing their sale.
    • 1826, The Percy Anecdotes, page 37:
      Bishop Neile, when Prelate of Lincoln, and before he was translated to the See of Durham, was attacked by the House of Commons, for having, as they supposed, dissuaded the Lords from agreeing to a conference with the Commons on the subject of impositions, and for having used this expression, " that the matter of imposition is a noli me tangere, and that it did not strike at a branch, but at the root and prerogative of the Imperial Crown."