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

Surrounded by spineless prickly pear, the shelter at the top of the hill eventually will be covered with ivy. Deborah Martin, San Antonio Express-News, "S.A. Botanical Garden opening new all-ages play area," 26 Feb. 2018 The freeway's 50-foot walls are covered with some 67-foot-long lizards and 40-foot-high prickly pears. Zahra Ahmad, azcentral, "Loop 101 expansion threatens gargantuan lizards decorating the Scottsdale freeway," 25 June 2018 The brand relies on prickly pear — a succulent that’s said to have anti-inflammatory qualities — in all of its products, which is why Huxley devotees rave about the hydration benefits and general skin-soothing effects. The Editors, The Strategist, "Huxley (the Skin Care of Choice Among Korean Flight Attendants) Is 50 Percent Off," 27 June 2018 The video above shows two domesticated dromedary camels—named Baby and Nessie—gnawing on a prickly pear cactus near Tucson, Arizona. Elaina Zachos, National Geographic, "This is How Camels Can Eat Spikey Cacti," 30 May 2018 Hot tea comes in prickly pear, wild berry green and Earl Grey varieties. Kellie Hwang, azcentral, "Where to get your caffeine fix in Phoenix when Starbucks stores close on May 29," 28 May 2018 Most Americans don’t put prickly pear on their shopping lists. Nathanael Johnson, WIRED, "Are Avocados Toast?," 24 May 2018 The yellow and orange blossoms of prickly pear cactus. Shannon Tompkins, Houston Chronicle, "For hunters, South Texas colors a feast for the senses," 3 May 2018 One popular brand called It Works! combines kidney bean extract, prickly pear extract, garcinia cambogia, chromium, and other herbs, and it's supposed to pack a super-carb-blocking punch. Michelle Mulligan, Redbook, "What Happened When I Tried the Best-Selling Weight-Loss Supplements on Amazon," 22 Dec. 2015

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

17 Sep 2018

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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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Comments on prickly pear

What made you want to look up prickly pear? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the setting in which something occurs

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