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90s Slang You Should Know


[prik-lee] /ˈprɪk li/
adjective, pricklier, prickliest.
full of or armed with prickles.
full of troublesome points:
a prickly problem.
prickling; smarting:
a prickly sensation.
Origin of prickly
First recorded in 1570-80; prickle + -y1
Related forms
prickliness, noun
unprickly, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for prickly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I followed, but was not so fortunate; falling heels over head, I landed in a bunch of prickly pears.

    Torrey's Narrative William Torrey
  • This is the region where the cacao-tree and prickly sarsaparilla grow.

    The Western World W.H.G. Kingston
  • Notice how prickly and needlelike on all sides these cedar branches are.

    The Hunted Woman James Oliver Curwood
  • This and the prickly pear suggest the climate of the tropics.

  • And this prickly blockhead had not the practical sagacity to get upon a wall seven feet and six inches high!

    Cobwebs From an Empty Skull Ambrose Bierce (AKA: Dod Grile)
British Dictionary definitions for prickly


adjective -lier, -liest
having or covered with prickles
stinging or tingling
bad-tempered or irritable
full of difficulties; knotty: a prickly problem
Derived Forms
prickliness, noun
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 prickly

1570s, "spiny, armed with prickles" (originally of holly leaves), from prickle (n.) + -y (2). Figurative sense of "irritable" first recorded 1862. Prickly heat is from 1736, so called for the sensation; prickly pear is from 1760 (earlier prickle pear, 1610s). Related: Prickliness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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