prick·​ly | \ ˈpri-k(ə-)lē How to pronounce prickly (audio) \
pricklier; prickliest

Definition of prickly

1 : full of or covered with prickles especially : distinguished from related kinds by the presence of prickles
2 : marked by prickling : stinging a prickly sensation
3a : troublesome, vexatious prickly issues
b : easily irritated had a prickly disposition

Other Words from prickly

prickliness noun

Synonyms for prickly


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Examples of prickly in a Sentence

The plant's leaves are prickly. she tried to ignore the feel of the prickly grass against her skin
Recent Examples on the Web And Vartolomei is a tricky protagonist, prickly and emotionally opaque for much of the movie. Kristen Baldwin,, 6 May 2022 But her growing understanding of his needs and his growing understanding of the concept of empathy make for a dynamic that’s both prickly and sweet, compounded initially by the always welcome Peters and instantly likable Olaleye. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Apr. 2022 Now 2 weeks old, zoo staff said the prickly little one is doing well. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 26 Jan. 2022 Grabbing the diiche, a prickly cactus bulb, away from my novice hands, Juliana Lorisho expertly uses a leafy branch to remove the spines before splitting the fruit open with her fingers. Kang-chun Cheng, The Christian Science Monitor, 15 Mar. 2022 Jim Gordon was co-created by the original Batman creators Bob Kane and Bill Finger, though who contributed what to the Bat-verse would be a prickly subject for decades. Christopher Borrelli,, 11 Mar. 2022 India, for example, has been an especially prickly case, and potentially an embarrassment for the administration. Los Angeles Times, 25 Feb. 2022 However, there should be an understanding and acknowledgement of the concerns that are arising rather than prickly defensiveness. Ineye Komonibo,, 8 Nov. 2021 Particularly as her movement grew, Montessori became prickly and controlling, concerned about money, expansion and a rigid adherence to her beliefs. Washington Post, 1 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prickly.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of prickly

1578, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for prickly

Time Traveler

The first known use of prickly was in 1578

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Dictionary Entries Near prickly



prickly apple

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Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Prickly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for prickly


prick·​ly | \ ˈpri-klē How to pronounce prickly (audio) \
pricklier; prickliest

Kids Definition of prickly

1 : having small sharp points a prickly cactus
2 : having or causing slight stinging pain a prickly sensation prickly cold

More from Merriam-Webster on prickly

Nglish: Translation of prickly for Spanish Speakers


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