\ˈspī-nē \
spinier; spiniest

Definition of spiny 

1 : abounding with difficulties, obstacles, or annoyances : thorny spiny problems

2 : covered or armed with spines broadly : bearing spines, prickles, or thorns

3 : slender and pointed like a spine

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Other Words from spiny

spininess noun

Examples of spiny in a Sentence

this promises to be a spiny problem to negotiate

Recent Examples on the Web

Before us, the expansive vista of Colorado's San Juans’ spiny ridges and sharp peaks were blanketed in 19 inches of fresh snowfall. Alex Bhattacharji, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why Telluride Keeps Being Named the Best U.S. Ski Town," 5 Dec. 2018 My favorite one is the Pacific spiny lumpsucker picture. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "How scientists captured a stunning, hellish menagerie of half-dissolved creatures," 21 Sep. 2018 One of them has an Asian theme, with extraordinary bonsai, while another is planted with the cactuses and spiny plants of the American Southwestern desert. New York Times, "Francine Prose on Montreal in the Spring: The Time of the Butterflies," 11 June 2018 But less welcome critters soon followed: sea lampreys, alewives, spiny water fleas, and the poster bivalves for ecological trouble, zebra and quagga mussels. Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee loves its rivers and Lake Michigan — and keeps abusing them, too," 3 July 2018 Like its adult counterparts, the little arthropod had a spiny raptorial appendage used for grasping prey and the radiodontan’s characteristic circular mouth filled with sharp teeth. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "This Prehistoric Sea Creature Had Fanged, Killer Babies," 11 June 2018 Unlike red urchins, the spiny purple urchins are no one’s idea of a favorite meal, whether human or otter. Washington Post, "Sea otters rebound but struggle to regain historic range," 18 May 2018 Leaves are thick and leathery, 2 to 3 inches wide with spiny margins. Karen Dardick, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Bromeliads create garden drama," 17 May 2018 Radiated tortoises used to be found along roadways in the dry, spiny forests of south and southwest Madagascar. Bloomberg.com, "Over 10,000 Endangered Tortoises Rescued From Traffickers," 2 May 2018

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

1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for spiny

Last Updated

16 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for spiny

The first known use of spiny was in 1586

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More Definitions for spiny



English Language Learners Definition of spiny

: having or covered with many sharp, pointed parts


\ˈspī-nē \
spinier; spiniest

Kids Definition of spiny

: covered with spines

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More from Merriam-Webster on spiny

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with spiny

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for spiny

Spanish Central: Translation of spiny

Nglish: Translation of spiny for Spanish Speakers

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