prick

1 of 2

noun

1
: a mark or shallow hole made by a pointed instrument
2
a
: a pointed instrument or weapon
b
: a sharp projecting organ or part
3
: an instance of pricking or the sensation of being pricked: such as
a
: a nagging or sharp feeling of remorse, regret, or sorrow
b
: a slight sharply localized discomfort
the prick of a needle
4
vulgar : penis
5
slang, vulgar : a spiteful or contemptible man often having some authority

prick

2 of 2

verb

pricked; pricking; pricks

transitive verb

1
: to pierce slightly with a sharp point
2
: to affect with anguish, grief, or remorse
doubt began to prick himPhilip Hale
3
: to ride, guide, or urge on with or as if with spurs : goad
4
: to mark, distinguish, or note by means of a small mark
5
: to trace or outline with punctures
6
: to remove (a young seedling) from the seedbed to another suitable for further growth
usually used with out
7
: to cause to be or stand erect
a dog pricking its ears

intransitive verb

1
a
: to prick something or cause a pricking sensation
b
: to feel discomfort as if from being pricked
2
a
: to urge a horse with the spur
b
: to ride fast
3
: thrust
4
: to become directed upward : point
Phrases
prick up one's ears
: to listen intently

Examples of prick in a Sentence

Noun She felt a prick as the thorn jabbed her foot. He felt the prick of the needle. She felt a prick of jealousy. Verb The nurse pricked my finger and squeezed out a drop of blood. The sharp shells pricked the bottoms of our feet. She was pricked by doubt.
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Her debut memoir is steeped in humidity and flecked with beads of sweat, pricked by mosquitoes, and slathered with candy-scented body lotion. Kristen Arnett, TIME, 4 June 2024 And when a final showdown arrives — several women and girls chirping out an animalistic warning — the hair on the back of your neck pricks up. Joshua Rothkopf, Los Angeles Times, 19 May 2024 In that bunch, Bunny also had an iteration of flax plant—the flora that Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger on in older tellings of the fairytale. Nick Remsen, Vogue, 7 May 2024 The rapper carried a fabric bouquet made up of the Flor de Maga, which is the national flower of Puerto Rico; along with a rose, and a flax plant, which is what Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger on in the original fairy tale, according to Vogue. Tabitha Parent, Peoplemag, 6 May 2024 Bing settled into the sphinx, ears pricked up, tail tucked under his rear. Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker, 6 May 2024 Marinated Cantonese-style with salt and sugar, the pigs are pricked all over to create small holes so the seasoning sinks in before they are lowered into fiery pits. Condé Nast, Bon Appétit, 20 Mar. 2024 The lodge was on Harding Lake, pricked with islands dressed in showy hats of spruce, birch, and poplar, their leaves wrapped in folds of icy lace. Sophy Roberts, Condé Nast Traveler, 29 Feb. 2024 Twins have been worshipped, killed at birth, paraded as curiosities, pricked and probed and experimented on. Parul Sehgal, The New Yorker, 22 Jan. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'prick.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English prikke, from Old English prica; akin to Middle Dutch pric prick

First Known Use

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of prick was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near prick

Cite this Entry

“Prick.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prick. Accessed 12 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

prick

1 of 2 noun
1
: a mark or small wound made by a pointed instrument
2
: something sharp or pointed
3
: an instance of pricking
4
: the sensation of being pricked

prick

2 of 2 verb
1
: to pierce slightly with a sharp point
2
: to have or cause a feeling of or as if of being pricked
3
: to point forward or upward
the dog's ears pricked up at the sound
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