spi·​nous | \ ˈspī-nəs How to pronounce spinous (audio) \

Definition of spinous

1a : spiny sense 2 a spinous plant
2 : difficult or unpleasant to handle or meet : thorny

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English writers have been associating spines with things that are difficult to take since at least 1586, when the English dramatist Thomas Kyd used the word spiny to describe his "cares." "Spinous" took on its figurative use in 1638, when the phrase "spinous criticisms" appeared. "Thorny explications" followed shortly after that, in 1653. Emily Dickinson gets the credit for giving the word prickly its "troublesome" sense. In her 1862 poem that begins "The Child's faith is new," she wrote, "To hold mistaken / His pretty estimates / Of Prickly Things."

Examples of spinous in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web There is a possibility of spinous process fracture, a break along the vetebrae that generally heals without long-term damage. Profootballdoc, sandiegouniontribune.com, 29 Sep. 2017

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

First Known Use of spinous

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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The first known use of spinous was in the 15th century

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spinous process

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Cite this Entry

“Spinous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spinous. Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for spinous


spi·​nous | \ ˈspī-nəs How to pronounce spinous (audio) \

Medical Definition of spinous

: slender and pointed like a spine


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