noun \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


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Heavy-bodied, solitary, slow-moving, nocturnal rodent with quills (modified hairs) along the back, tail, and, on certain crested species, the neck and shoulders. The quills are easily detached when touched. The New World species (four genera in family Erethizontidae) are arboreal and have barbed quills; the Old World species (four genera in family Hystricidae) are terrestrial and have unbarbed quills. The North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum), about 31 in. (80 cm) long with a tail about 12 in. (30 cm) long and quills about 3 in. (8 cm) long, drives its powerful tail against an assailant. For food, it favours the tender tissue beneath tree bark. Crested porcupines, the typical Old World porcupines, run backward, quills erect, into the enemy. They eat roots, fruit, and other vegetation. The African crested porcupine, the largest terrestrial rodent in Europe and Africa, may weigh 60 lb (27 kg) and have quills 14 in. (35 cm) long.


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