noun por·cu·pine \ˈpr-kyə-ˌpīn\

: a small animal that has very stiff, sharp parts (called quills) all over its body

plural porcupines also porcupine

Full Definition of PORCUPINE

:  any of various relatively large slow-moving chiefly herbivorous rodents having sharp erectile spines mingled with the hair and constituting an Old World terrestrial family (Hystricidae) and a New World chiefly arboreal family (Erethizontidae)

Illustration of PORCUPINE


Middle English porke despyne, from Middle French porc espin, from Old Italian porcospino, from Latin porcus pig + spina spine, prickle
First Known Use: 15th century


geographical name

Definition of PORCUPINE

river 448 miles (721 kilometers) in N Yukon Territory & NE Alaska flowing N & W into the Yukon
PORCUPINE Defined for Kids


noun por·cu·pine \ˈpr-kyə-ˌpīn\

Definition of PORCUPINE for Kids

:  a gnawing slow-moving animal that is a large rodent and has stiff sharp quills among its hairs

Word History of PORCUPINE

The porcupine is certainly not a source of pork, but the word pork and the porc- in the word porcupine both come ultimately from Latin porcus, pig, hog. Porcupine was modified from a compound word in Romance languages such as medieval French porc espin, literally, spiny pig. (The espin part comes from Latin spina, thorn, spine.)
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