Webster 1913 Edition



Full of sharp points or prickles; armed or covered with prickles;
as, a
Prickly heat
a noncontagious cutaneous eruption of red pimples, attended with intense itching and tingling of the parts affected. It is due to inflammation of the sweat glands, and is often brought on by overheating the skin in hot weather.
Prickly pear
a name given to several plants of the cactaceous genus
, American plants consisting of fleshy, leafless, usually flattened, and often prickly joints inserted upon each other. The sessile flowers have many petals and numerous stamens. The edible fruit is a large pear-shaped berry containing many flattish seeds. The common species of the Northern Atlantic States is
Opuntia vulgaris
. In the South and West are many others, and in tropical America more than a hundred more.
Opuntia vulgaris
Opuntia Ficus-Indica
, and
Opuntia Tuna
are abundantly introduced in the Mediterranean region, and
Opuntia Dillenii
has become common in India.
Prickly pole
a West Indian palm (
Bactris Plumierana
), the slender trunk of which bears many rings of long black prickles.
Prickly withe
a West Indian cactaceous plant (
Cereus triangularis
) having prickly, slender, climbing, triangular stems.
Prickly rat
any one of several species of South American burrowing rodents belonging to
and allied genera. The hair is usually intermingled with sharp spines.

Webster 1828 Edition



Full of sharp points or prickles; armed with prickles; as a prickly shrub.

Definition 2023





prickly (comparative pricklier, superlative prickliest)

  1. Covered with sharp points.
    Prickly pear is a cactus, you have to peel it before eating it to remove the spines and the tough skin.
  2. Easily irritated.
    He has a prickly personality. He doesn't get along with people because he is easily set off.
  3. difficult, hairy, complicated


Derived terms

See also



prickly (comparative more prickly, superlative most prickly)

  1. In a prickly manner
    • 2016, David Thomson, Biggest lesson of the 2016 Oscars? The Academy should be scrapped (in The Guardian, 3 March 2016)
      Striding across stage in his bright white jacket, his voice soaring and cracking – like Charlie Parker’s – he was nervous but prickly eloquent, caustic yet encouraging.