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

Did You Know?

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."

First Known Use of spinous

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about spinous

Statistics for spinous

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for spinous

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for spinous


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

Medical Definition of spinous

: slender and pointed like a spine

More from Merriam-Webster on spinous

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with spinous

Comments on spinous

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


a wrong name or inappropriate designation

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!