spinier; spiniest
: abounding with difficulties, obstacles, or annoyances : thorny
spiny problems
: covered or armed with spines
broadly : bearing spines, prickles, or thorns
: slender and pointed like a spine
spininess noun

Examples of spiny in a Sentence

this promises to be a spiny problem to negotiate
Recent Examples on the Web Whole crabs can be intimidating with their spiny shells and tough-to-crack exteriors. Saveur Editors, Saveur, 7 Sep. 2023 Neuroscientists have long thought that antipsychotics dampen extreme dopamine transmission by sticking to receptors in a type of cell called spiny projection neurons, or SPNs. WIRED, 7 Aug. 2023 Each of the spiny neurons sport either D1 or D2—they’re genetically distinct. WIRED, 7 Aug. 2023 Smooth and spiny dogfish look almost identical save for the namesake spikes on the back of the spiny dogfish. Joe Cermele, Field & Stream, 26 July 2023 Cod may eventually be replaced by another species like spiny dogfish, for example. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 22 June 2022 Neither smooth nor spiny dogfish are particularly hard fighters, which doesn’t help their popularity status among anglers. Joe Cermele, Field & Stream, 26 July 2023 Jackson’s vital, spiny performance as Gudrun, a strong-willed Midland villager in love with a brawny industrialist but chafing against patriarchal control, embodied the film’s spirit of challenge and curiosity. Guy Lodge, Variety, 15 June 2023 The downside, however, is that those spiny papillae, which are slanted towards the back of a cat’s throat, move all that loose fur and detritus in a direction that leads inevitably to the formation of hairballs. Stephen C. George, Discover Magazine, 12 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'spiny.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of spiny was in 1586

Dictionary Entries Near spiny

Cite this Entry

“Spiny.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spiny. Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


spinier; spiniest
: full of difficulties, obstacles, or problems : thorny
: having or covered with spines, thorns, or prickles
spininess noun

More from Merriam-Webster on spiny

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