Definition of urchin in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈəːtʃɪn/


1A young child who is poorly or raggedly dressed: he was surrounded by a dozen street urchins in rags
More example sentences
  • He had told her that there would always be street urchins, to young and weak to work, scouring the streets for pockets to pick.
  • The scallywags and street urchins of 1920s Kingston had come up with a new way of extracting a few pennies from unsuspecting members of the public.
  • Club secretary Brian Mulenga, who has been there from the start, says the team evolved from a clutch of ragged street urchins who toyed with homemade plastic balls on dusty patches of land.
mischievous child, imp, monkey, Puck, rascal, rogue, minx, mischief-maker, prankster, tearaway;
informal scamp, scallywag, brat, whippersnapper, horror, varmint, scarecrow
British informal perisher, pickle, tinker
North American informal hellion
dated jackanapes, rip, gamin, gamine
historical mudlark
2 dialect A hedgehog.
Example sentences
  • The name sea urchin comes from an old English meaning of urchin: hedgehog.
3 short for sea urchin.
Example sentences
  • Kids also enjoy the tide pool touch tank filled with sea stars, urchins, and horseshoe crabs.
  • Animals examined as part of the study include deep-ocean sea cucumbers, urchins and brittle stars.
  • You will often find species of shrimp living on urchins and starfish in the tropics and, if you look carefully, might also find very small hermit crabs adopting the same behaviour, particularly on starfish.


Middle English hirchon, urchon 'hedgehog', from Old Northern French herichon, based on Latin hericius 'hedgehog'.

  • An urchin was originally a hedgehog, and the name, based on Latin hericius ‘hedgehog’, is still used in some English dialects. People started applying urchin to poor, raggedly dressed children in the mid 16th century, though this did not become common until more than 200 years later. As a name for a marine invertebrate sea urchin comes from the original sense, referring to the spines on its shell.

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Line breaks: ur¦chin

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