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[pawr-kyuh-pahyn] /ˈpɔr kyəˌpaɪn/
any of several rodents covered with stiff, sharp, erectile spines or quills, as Erethizon dorsatum of North America.
Origin of porcupine
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English porcupyne, variant of porcapyne; replacing porke despyne < Middle French porc d'espine thorny pig. See pork, spine Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for porcupine
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Continuing his journey, the porcupine passed under a fallen tree.

    The Kindred of the Wild Charles G. D. Roberts
  • The Canadian porcupine is also known as the cawquaw or urson.

    The Western World W.H.G. Kingston
  • When a dog or any other foe comes to close quarters, the porcupine wheels round and rapidly charges back.

  • And yet, somehow or other—I don't know how, and I don't want to—they ate that porcupine.

    Forest Neighbors William Davenport Hulbert
  • The one thing the porcupine seems bent upon doing at all times is to keep right side up with care.

  • A porcupine's feet will not go of themselves, the way other animals' do.

    Forest Neighbors William Davenport Hulbert
British Dictionary definitions for porcupine


any of various large hystricomorph rodents of the families Hystricidae, of Africa, Indonesia, S Europe, and S Asia, and Erethizontidae, of the New World. All species have a body covering of protective spines or quills
Derived Forms
porcupinish, adjective
porcupiny, adjective
Word Origin
C14 porc despyne pig with spines, from Old French porc espin; see pork, spine
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for porcupine

c.1400, porke despyne, from Old French porc-espin (early 13c., Modern French porc-épic), literally "spiny pig," from Latin porcus "hog" + spina "thorn, spine" (see spike (n.1)). The word had many forms in Middle English and early Modern English, including portepyn, porkpen, porkenpick, porpoynt, and Shakespeare's porpentine (in "Hamlet").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for porcupine



A frayed wire rope (WWII Navy)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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