View synonyms for prickly


[ prik-lee ]


, prick·li·er, prick·li·est.
  1. full of or armed with prickles.
  2. full of troublesome points:

    a prickly problem.

  3. prickling; smarting:

    a prickly sensation.


/ ˈprɪklɪ /


  1. having or covered with prickles
  2. stinging or tingling
  3. bad-tempered or irritable
  4. full of difficulties; knotty

    a prickly problem

“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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Derived Forms

  • ˈprickliness, noun
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Other Words From

  • prickli·ness noun
  • un·prickly adjective
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Word History and Origins

Origin of prickly1

First recorded in 1570–80; prickle + -y 1
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Example Sentences

Then, Wright shows Ron and Russell as the adorable, classic 1950s-style kids they were, born three years apart and, as it turns out, inseparable in a prickly sort of way.

From Time

The only difference, Cotton says, was a box of disposable gloves by the kitchen sink and a prickly attitude from her supervisor.

From Time

This get-up is itchy, prickly, crunchy, and ridiculous looking, but it might also save your life.

It’s not so much a rollercoaster as it is falling down a mountainside—one littered with prickly bushes and sharp rocks.

It’s an account of the work of Griffith Pugh, the prickly scientist who designed the oxygen gear, the acclimatization protocols, the diet, the down clothing, the boots, the tents, the stoves, and even the inflatable beds for the expedition.

She used electrolysis to banish the prickly hair from her delicate face.

Much of the explanation is personal—the reserved, sometimes prickly politico has never been well-liked.

I missed Don's chiseled mug and Roger's blithe wisecracks and Peggy's prickly chutzpah.

Children are not idealized: they are resourceful but prickly, cunning but confused.

Music critic and former MTV News anchor Kurt Loder pays tribute to the prickly, brilliant Velvet Underground front man.

With a prickly heat suffusing my whole body and a melting sensation at the collar I struggled through the wretched lyric once.

It bears beautiful yellow blossoms in summer, after which comes the fruit, a prickly pear, not good to eat.

Another kind of cactus has crimson and scarlet blossoms, but no prickly pears.

"That's right, too," agreed Mollie, a prickly sensation of pure fright tickling the roots of her hair.

In a few years the girl he had married would be a plain and prickly little pedant—ill-bred besides—and he knew it.





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