prickly pear


Definition of prickly pear

1 or prickly pear cactus : opuntia especially : an opuntia with flattened, usually paddle-shaped, jointed stem segments — compare cholla, nopal
2 or prickly pear fruit : the pulpy, pear- or egg-shaped, edible, yellow to purplish-red fruit of various prickly pears (such as Opuntia ficus-indica) — see tuna entry 2

Illustration of prickly pear

Illustration of prickly pear

prickly pear 1

Examples of prickly pear in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Don’t miss Quiadaiyn’s horchata either, and make sure to order it with a prickly pear snowball on top. Rachel Schnalzer,, "Four Hours: Laid-back Mar Vista is a calm haven amid the bustling Westside," 28 June 2019 There are rocky cliffs and hills covered with prickly pear, the epitome of a desert landscape. Lily Altavena, azcentral, "Squeezed by declining enrollment, Arizona's rural schools are suffering," 12 June 2019 For imbibing, don't miss the prickly pear vodka and award-winning craft beers, including the session style Grand Canyon National Park centennial brew Trail Hike IPA, of Grand Canyon Brewing and Distillery. Laura Kiniry, Smithsonian, "The 15 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2019," 6 June 2019 Although there are no prickly pear cacti in the Middle East, an area traditionally associated with the animals, there are hard, thorny plants there that camels also eat. Elaina Zachos, National Geographic, "This is How Camels Can Eat Spikey Cacti," 30 May 2018 At the hotel's spa, luxuriate in massages and treatments using local ingredients, like prickly pear, juniper, sage, and cypress. Leena Kim, Town & Country, "5 Luxury Destinations for a Mother-Daughter Trip," 9 May 2019 Animals that frequent the area include: Javelinas: Packs of these pig-like creatures can be spotted crossing the road or munching on prickly pear cacti, to the chagrin of Scottsdale gardeners. Candace Taylor, WSJ, "A Desert Home Design Inspired by Paperweights," 8 Nov. 2018 But] given the chance, [Baby and Nessie] always want to go for the prickly pear. Elaina Zachos, National Geographic, "This is How Camels Can Eat Spikey Cacti," 30 May 2018 The Lakers already have added JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson, the N.B.A.’s own king of oddness, and Rajon Rondo, whose court sense is brilliant, whose personality is a prickly pear and whose jump shot is nonexistent. Michael Powell, New York Times, "The East Has Fallen Off the Map," 3 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prickly pear.' 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 pear

1696, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

9 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for prickly pear

The first known use of prickly pear was in 1696

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More Definitions for prickly pear

prickly pear


English Language Learners Definition of prickly pear

: a cactus that has yellow flowers and fruits shaped like pears also : the fruit of this plant

prickly pear


Kids Definition of prickly pear

: a cactus with flat branching spiny stems and a sweet fruit shaped like a pear

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More from Merriam-Webster on prickly pear

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with prickly pear

Spanish Central: Translation of prickly pear

Nglish: Translation of prickly pear for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about prickly pear

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