prick·​ly | \ˈpri-k(ə-)lē \
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

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Other Words from prickly

prickliness noun

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

Their relationship was perceived as prickly in those years. Childs Walker,, "Bob Baffert stares down all-time records with his latest Preakness favorite, Justify," 17 May 2018 Image The core elements of the premise — rogue tentacles, prickly villains, a found family and swoon-worthy romances — are familiar to aficionados of genre entertainment. Maureen Ryan, New York Times, "A Cult Show’s Recipe for Success: Whiskey, Twitter and Complex Women," 6 July 2018 The impact of Anthony Bourdain’s suicide on June 8 was profound in the restaurant community, where the chef/raconteur was revered for his sense of adventure and his prickly opinions. Michael Klein,, "Anthony Bourdain remembered by Philly food community," 25 June 2018 Everyone applauded Bou Lou's striking packaging — tall 16-ounce black cans adorned with the Strange Music logo, prickly pineapples and slithering snakes. Sarah Gish, kansascity, "Bou Lou taste test: We tried Tech N9ne and Boulevard's new pineapple and coconut beer," 14 June 2018 For better and for worse, their parenting style matches their prickly relationship. Andrew Fleming, New York Times, "Review: A Child Adds a Layer to Gay Couple’s ‘Ideal Home’," 28 June 2018 Trump and Heller have papered over their once prickly relationship to present a united front in their shared goal of helping Republicans maintain, if not expand, their thin 51-49 majority in the Senate in November’s congressional elections. Washington Post, "Trump pushes tough immigration stance in Nevada appearance," 24 June 2018 Trump and Heller have papered over their once prickly relationship to present a united front in their shared goal of helping Republicans maintain, if not expand, their thin 51-to-49 majority in the Senate. Darlene Superville,, "Trump campaigns for Nevada senator," 23 June 2018 After Golden State won its third NBA title in four years, Curry gave his blessing as the Warriors pursued DeMarcus Cousins, the prickly but injured All-Star coming off an Achilles tear. USA TODAY, "Trump attends NATO summit. That doesn't mean he has to like it," 11 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of prickly

1578, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for prickly

Last Updated

26 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for prickly

The first known use of prickly was in 1578

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More Definitions for prickly



English Language Learners Definition of prickly

: having many sharp points

: caused or seeming to be caused by something that has many small, sharp points

: causing a prickly feeling on your skin


prick·​ly | \ˈpri-klē \
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

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Comments on prickly

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a private place of worship

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