verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)


    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.
    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
Related formsprick·er, nounprick·ing·ly, adverbun·pricked, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pricker

Historical Examples of pricker

  • When we had had Pricker for some weeks, we received a present of a second hedgehog.

    Live Toys

    Emma Davenport

  • So that we felt quite easy about the safety of Pricker and his comrade.

    Live Toys

    Emma Davenport

  • "It is only Prim, Prig, and Pricker making sport," replied the servant.

  • Next, he cuts a wooden plug to fit the quill; into the plug, the pricker is fixed.

    The Art of Travel

    Francis Galton

  • Any suitable note-book with a pencil goes into a pocket, taking the place of the tablet and pricker.

British Dictionary definitions for pricker



a person or thing that pricks
US a thorn; prickle


verb (mainly tr)

  1. to make (a small hole) in (something) by piercing lightly with a sharp point
  2. to wound in this manner
(intr) to cause or have a piercing or stinging sensation
to cause to feel a sharp emotional painknowledge of such poverty pricked his conscience
to puncture or pierce
to mark, delineate, or outline by dots or punctures
(also intr usually foll by up) to rise or raise erect; pointthe dog pricked his ears up at his master's call
(usually foll by out or off) to transplant (seedlings) into a larger container
(often foll by off) nautical to measure or trace (a course, distance, etc) on a chart with dividers
archaic to rouse or impel; urge on
(intr) archaic to ride fast on horseback; spur a horse on
prick up one's ears to start to listen attentively; become interested


the act of pricking or the condition or sensation of being pricked
a mark made by a sharp point; puncture
a sharp emotional pain resembling the physical pain caused by being prickeda prick of conscience
a taboo slang word for penis
slang, derogatory an obnoxious or despicable man
an instrument or weapon with a sharp point, such as a thorn, goad, bee sting, etc
the footprint or track of an animal, esp a hare
obsolete a small mark caused by pricking a surface; dot; point
kick against the pricks to hurt oneself by struggling against something in vain

Word Origin for 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

Word Origin and History for pricker



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).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper