Definition of prickly in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈprɪkli/

adjective (pricklier, prickliest)

1Covered in prickles: masses of prickly brambles
More example sentences
  • One plant we should see more of is Rubus biflorus, the ornamental bramble, whose prickly stems are covered in a white, waxy bloom.
  • Here on the free-draining soil gorse proliferates and, year by year is gradually spreading across good grazing land, its impenetrable prickly branch structure ideal cover for rabbit burrows.
  • Once, out picking blackberries, he over-reached and fell headlong into the prickly bramble.
briary, brambly, burry, rough, scratchy, sharp
1.1Resembling prickles: his hair was prickly and short
More example sentences
  • His face was prickly from the short, protruding facial hairs on his face.
  • Rya's shirt was soaked and had turned to a crimson color, her hair was covered in blood and it had started to dry, making her hair hard and prickly.
  • During her last days, she felt most difficulties in eating because her lips and mouth were so prickly and painful.
1.2Having or causing a tingling or itching sensation: prickly velvet seats my skin feels prickly
More example sentences
  • A prickly and tingly sensation ran up through my body as I armed my head back in sorrow.
  • Those were the things I was thinking when I got a prickly sensation at the back of my neck - like I was being watched.
  • He had the distinct prickly sensation on the back of his neck that usually meant he was being watched.
2(Of a person) ready to take offence: she came across as prickly and generally difficult
More example sentences
  • I have learnt how to establish a healthy working rapport with difficult, prickly people with whom I have precious little in common.
  • People are prickly and difficult, but things - ah, they're a different matter.
  • His sometimes prickly personality could work against him.
British informal narky, ratty, eggy, stroppy, shirty
North American informal peckish, soreheaded
Australian/New Zealand informal snaky
informal, dated miffy, waxy
2.1(Of a subject, issue, etc.) likely to cause offence or controversy: this is a prickly subject
More example sentences
  • You never have to worry that Mowat will press his interviewees on prickly issues.
  • Perhaps movie-makers see it as a prickly subject, limp as a film theme, a let-down for audiences.
  • For months Edmonton's city council has been struggling with prickly issue of raves and this week they cleverly managed to address the issue while at the same time adroitly sidestepping the consequences.



Pronunciation: /ˈprɪklɪnəs/
Example sentences
  • That anyone could take offence at such an effort beggars belief and displays the small-mindedness and extreme prickliness that has come to typify ministers in this administration.
  • Mid-way through her answer, her neatly measured affability gives way to a decided prickliness.
  • Given his frequent prickliness over criticism and given his prevalent self-assurance as a writer, his openness to Bulwer's radical suggestion has surprised many commentators.

Words that rhyme with prickly


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: prick¦ly

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