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porcupine

[pawr-kyuh-pahyn]
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noun
  1. any of several rodents covered with stiff, sharp, erectile spines or quills, as Erethizon dorsatum of North America.
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Origin of porcupine

1375–1425; late Middle English porcupyne, variant of porcapyne; replacing porke despyne < Middle French porc d'espine thorny pig. See pork, spine
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for porcupine

porcupine

noun
  1. 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
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Derived Formsporcupinish, adjectiveporcupiny, 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

Word Origin and History for porcupine

n.

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").

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper