- an obnoxious or contemptible person.
verb (used with object)
- to lame (a horse) by driving a nail improperly into its hoof.
- to nick: to prick a horse's tail.
verb (used without object)
Origin of prick
verb (mainly tr)
- to make (a small hole) in (something) by piercing lightly with a sharp point
- to wound in this manner
Word Origin for prick
Middle English prikke, from Old English prica (n.) "point, puncture; particle, small portion of space or time," common West Germanic (cf. Low German prik "point," Middle Dutch prick, Dutch prik, Swedish prick "point, dot"). Meaning "pointed weapon, dagger" is first attested 1550s.
Earliest recorded use for "penis" is 1590s (Shakespeare puns upon it). My prick was used 16c.-17c. as a term of endearment by "immodest maids" for their boyfriends. As a term of abuse, it is attested by 1929. Prick-teaser attested from 1958. To kick against the pricks (Acts ix:5, first in the translation of 1382) is probably from sense of "a goad for oxen" (mid-14c.).
Old English prician "to prick, pierce, prick out, sting," from West Germanic *prikojanan (cf. Low German pricken, Dutch prikken "to prick"); Danish prikke "to mark with dots," Swedish pricka "to point, prick, mark with dots" probably are from Low German. Related: Pricked; pricking. To prick up one's ears is 1580s, originally of animals with pointed ears (prycke-eared, of foxes, is from 1520s).
prick up one's ears
Listen carefully, pay close attention, as in When she heard them mention her boyfriend she pricked up her ears. This term alludes to horses raising their ears at a sudden noise. [Late 1500s]