[ prik ]
See synonyms for prick on
  1. a puncture made by a needle, thorn, or the like.

  2. a sharp point; prickle.

  1. the act of pricking: the prick of a needle.

  2. the state or sensation of being pricked.

  3. a sharp pain caused by or as if by being pricked; twinge.

  4. the pointed end of a prickspur.

  5. Slang: Vulgar.

    • an obnoxious or contemptible person.

  6. Archaic. a goad for oxen.

  7. Obsolete. a small or minute mark, a dot, or a point.

  8. Obsolete. any pointed instrument or weapon.

verb (used with object)
  1. to pierce with a sharp point; puncture.

  2. to affect with sharp pain, as from piercing.

  1. to cause sharp mental pain to; sting, as with remorse, anger, etc.: His conscience pricked him.

  2. to urge on with or as if with a goad or spur: My duty pricks me on.

  3. to mark (a surface) with pricks or dots in tracing something.

  4. to mark or trace (something) on a surface by pricks or dots.

  5. to cause to stand erect or point upward (usually followed by up): The dog pricked his ears at the sound of the bell.

  6. Farriery.

    • to lame (a horse) by driving a nail improperly into its hoof.

    • to nick: to prick a horse's tail.

  7. to measure (distance, the size of an area, etc.) on a chart with dividers (usually followed by off).

  8. Horticulture. to transplant (a seedling) into a container that provides more room for growth (usually followed by out or off).

verb (used without object)
  1. to perform the action of piercing or puncturing something.

  2. to have a sensation of being pricked.

  1. to spur or urge a horse on; ride rapidly.

  2. to rise erect or point upward, as the ears of an animal (usually followed by up).

Idioms about prick

  1. kick against the pricks, to resist incontestable facts or authority; protest uselessly: In appealing the case again, you will just be kicking against the pricks.

  2. prick up one's ears, to become very alert; listen attentively: The reporter pricked up his ears at the prospect of a scoop.

Origin of prick

before 1000; (noun) Middle English prike;Old English prica, price dot, point; (v.) Middle English priken,Old English prician; cognate with Dutch, Low German prik point

Other words from prick

  • pricker, noun
  • prick·ing·ly, adverb
  • un·pricked, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use prick in a sentence

  • He spoke for a full minute, and Matt pricked up his ears as he heard the name of Dangerfield mentioned.

    Motor Matt's "Century" Run | Stanley R. Matthews
  • Dwarfs in pointed hoods pricked with fern leaves whirled about these edifices in the airiest fashion.

    Honey-Bee | Anatole France

British Dictionary definitions for prick


/ (prɪk) /

verb(mainly tr)
    • to make (a small hole) in (something) by piercing lightly with a sharp point

    • to wound in this manner

  1. (intr) to cause or have a piercing or stinging sensation

  1. to cause to feel a sharp emotional pain: knowledge of such poverty pricked his conscience

  2. to puncture or pierce

  3. to mark, delineate, or outline by dots or punctures

  4. (also intr usually foll by up) to rise or raise erect; point: the dog pricked his ears up at his master's call

  5. (usually foll by out or off) to transplant (seedlings) into a larger container

  6. (often foll by off) nautical to measure or trace (a course, distance, etc) on a chart with dividers

  7. archaic to rouse or impel; urge on

  8. (intr) archaic to ride fast on horseback; spur a horse on

  9. prick up one's ears to start to listen attentively; become interested

  1. the act of pricking or the condition or sensation of being pricked

  2. a mark made by a sharp point; puncture

  1. a sharp emotional pain resembling the physical pain caused by being pricked: a prick of conscience

  2. a taboo slang word for penis

  3. slang, derogatory an obnoxious or despicable man

  4. an instrument or weapon with a sharp point, such as a thorn, goad, bee sting, etc

  5. the footprint or track of an animal, esp a hare

  6. obsolete a small mark caused by pricking a surface; dot; point

  7. kick against the pricks to hurt oneself by struggling against something in vain

Origin of prick

Old English prica point, puncture; related to Dutch prik, Icelandic prik short stick, Swedish prick point, stick

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