stickleback

[stik-uh l-bak]
noun
  1. any of the small, pugnacious, spiny-backed fishes of the family Gasterosteidae, inhabiting northern fresh waters and sea inlets, the male of which builds and guards the nest.

Origin of stickleback

1400–50; late Middle English stykylbak, equivalent to Old English sticol scaly + bæc back1
Also called prickleback.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for stickleback

stickleback

noun
  1. any small teleost fish of the family Gasterosteidae, such as Gasterosteus aculeatus (three-spined stickleback) of rivers and coastal regions and G. pungitius (ten-spined stickleback) confined to rivers. They have a series of spines along the back and occur in cold and temperate northern regions

Word Origin for stickleback

C15: from Old English stickel prick, sting + back 1
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 stickleback
n.

c.1400, from Old English sticel "prick, sting" (from Proto-Germanic *stik- "pierce, prick, be sharp;" see stick (v.)) + back.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper