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

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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 For Black Americans, the picking has often been prickly business. New York Times, "Raphael Warnock and the Solitude of the Black Senator," 20 Jan. 2021 The ranch upon which they are kept is sandy and sterile in the extreme, yet the animals feast and grow fat on such prickly shrubs and bitter weeds as no other animal would touch. Dan Schlenoff, Scientific American, "50, 100 & 150 Years Ago: January 2021," 1 Jan. 2021 Spruce needles also can be stiff and prickly to the touch. Sheryl Devore,, "Lake County’s aromatic evergreens beckon in winter," 24 Dec. 2020 So Momo soon carves a space at Casa Rosa alongside two other boys, though his hard shell hardly cracks on contact: Scared and furious, his default mode is bravado; one tiny, prickly pugilist against the world. Leah Greenblatt,, "Sentimental Netflix drama The Life Ahead finds its heart in star Sophia Loren: Review," 13 Nov. 2020 And although Ames forges the story’s premise, prickly, funny Reese is the star of the show. Crispin Long, The New Yorker, "The Insider Insights of “Detransition, Baby”," 31 Jan. 2021 Renaming schools is a tricky task in these prickly times, but San Francisco is planning to rename 44 of its public schools. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, "Say hey: 'Willie Mays' would be perfect new name for school near Candlestick," 31 Jan. 2021 The snarky comment came during the final hours of Trump's presidency and underscored the prickly relationship between the two nations. Barnini Chakraborty, Washington Examiner, "China delivers parting shot to Trump and Pompeo: 'Good riddance!'," 20 Jan. 2021 Then came the first safer-at-home order, which meant sheltering in a cramped home with my gangly teenage son, work-at-home husband, two lovable, clumsy pit bulls and one prickly, harder-to-love cat. Los Angeles Times, "Culture in 2020: What we lost and found in the year of COVID," 14 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for prickly

Time Traveler

The first known use of prickly was in 1578

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Statistics for prickly

Last Updated

20 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prickly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2021.

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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 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prickly

Nglish: Translation of prickly for Spanish Speakers

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