Definition of prickly in English:

prickly

adjective

  • 1Covered in prickles.

    ‘masses of prickly brambles’
    • ‘It's also worthwhile surrounding your pots and trays with netting (or prickly holly clippings) to prevent these rodents digging up the seeds.’
    • ‘We wandered through a maze of prickly bushes and speculated about the people who had lived there once.’
    • ‘He headed down the street to the opposite corner, where a large, prickly bush had grown through the fence, covering the entire corner.’
    • ‘We kept driving, past cedar thickets and a pasture studded with blooming prickly pear cactus.’
    • ‘The fruit is tough and prickly on the outside, tender and sweet on the inside.’
    • ‘Because of their prickly nature, cacti could also make life difficult for farm workers.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I liked the stealthy hiding part, often choosing the excellent cover provided by a set of prickly Pyracantha bushes in a neighboring yard.’
    • ‘The tree is also good climbing material for the cat, who seems oblivious to the prickly foliage and spends hours at the top precariously lunging at flies and watching the birds who sit just out of reach on the telegraph wires.’
    • ‘Like prickly pear thorns, needle grass penetrated moccasins and leather leggings and punctured the skin.’
    • ‘Prickly pear cactus grows here too - evidence of the arid conditions.’
    • ‘The perfectly symmetrical prickly balled yacca or Australia grass tree, which takes 100 years to grow a central trunk, is my favourite.’
    • ‘Someone told me that if I ate the wrong bits (the core, or those round prickly things at the outside of the flesh) it would cut my mouth.’
    • ‘Once, out picking blackberries, he over-reached and fell headlong into the prickly bramble.’
    • ‘I understand that feng shui practitioners swear by the deterrent of prickly cactuses, positioned close to doors and windows, but these are ugly, and may impede escape.’
    • ‘The true protectors of clownfish in the ocean, however, are not parents but rather prickly, stinging sea anemones that live on reefs.’
    • ‘The tropical prickly ash has a temperate equivalent called the toothache tree.’
    • ‘An anonymous member of the public found the injured hedgehog in her garden and took the prickly fellow to the Swan Sanctuary last Wednesday.’
    • ‘I didn't see any cut Blue spruces but the 90 cm potted trees at £25 are lovely, with their prickly needles coloured with a metallic blue sheen.’
    • ‘One plant we should see more of is Rubus biflorus, the ornamental bramble, whose prickly stems are covered in a white, waxy bloom.’
    spiky, spiked, thorny, barbed, spiny, pronged, bristled, bristly
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Resembling prickles.
      ‘his hair was prickly and short’
      • ‘A majestic theme emerges, its clarity disrupted by prickly guitars and scrambled flutterings that threaten to bury it completely.’
      • ‘The ground was prickly and Erial wore no shoes but her feet were tough and soon she made it down to the bank.’
      • ‘Peppery, spicy and prickly with good tannins there are ample amounts of redcurrant and raspberry fruit flavours present in this wine.’
      • ‘His face was prickly from the short, protruding facial hairs on his face.’
      • ‘The wash is quite savoury with a winning rush of prickly white pepper spice at the finish.’
      • ‘The ground was uneven, with little prickly pieces of grass.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I still remember his gentle brown eyes, set in his warm and prickly skin, and framed by his delicate waves of deep mahogany.’
    2. 1.2Having or causing a tingling or itching sensation.
      ‘prickly velvet seats’
      ‘my skin feels prickly’
      • ‘If you are overweight or sweat easily you are more likely to have prickly heat.’
      • ‘A prickly and tingly sensation ran up through my body as I armed my head back in sorrow.’
      • ‘There is a mild, prickly sensation for 45 minutes as the solution is left to work, but you are distracted with a hand, foot or scalp massage.’
      • ‘My happy muse was interrupted by the prickly, nettling sensation of being watched.’
      • ‘To my horror I realized my eyes were all prickly and my palms sticky.’
      • ‘Prickly heat is a very itchy rash that appears in hot, humid weather.’
      • ‘Those were the things I was thinking when I got a prickly sensation at the back of my neck - like I was being watched.’
      • ‘In the split second that their gazes locked, that same prickly sensation consumed his mind as if the blood flow to his brain had suddenly been cut off.’
      • ‘I felt the hot, prickly sensation I got when I was nervous.’
      • ‘It's this so-called bronchial constriction that creates the tight, prickly sensation in your chest, and aerobic exercise only compounds the problem.’
      • ‘It was a prickly sensation on his forehead - cool and wet as it trickled down his temples, like drips of water.’
      • ‘Doyle could feel a flow of power moving through Angel's hands to Cordelia's foot, and he could feel the warm, prickly sensation as the power caressed the small wound there.’
      • ‘He had the distinct prickly sensation on the back of his neck that usually meant he was being watched.’
      • ‘She felt a prickly sensation rise over skin, as she shivered.’
  • 2(of a person) ready to take offence.

    ‘she came across as prickly and generally difficult’
    • ‘He is particularly prickly on the subject of who should do the checks - nurses, doctors or orthopaedic surgeons - and is adamant it should be the latter.’
    • ‘He was awkward, prickly, ill-tempered, condescending and unpredictable.’
    • ‘The overall pattern, however, suggests that her personality is prickly to begin with and that her life has not gone the way she would have liked.’
    • ‘Cara had seemed like such a prickly person that he would never have imagined, in his wildest or craziest dreams, that she was capable of breaking down like this.’
    • ‘But his prickly sense of slighted dignity and obsessive contempt for other people's ethical squalor inevitably drags him down.’
    • ‘The people are prickly on the outside, but a lot friendlier once you get to know them.’
    • ‘Suddenly Betty comes alive as a prickly character with her own issues.’
    • ‘Am I being prickly, or do I have a valid complaint?’
    • ‘He could be very prickly, especially with people who disagreed with him.’
    • ‘There will be few tears shed at the prospect of the skipper's demise should that happen since Gregan is a notoriously prickly character who engenders more respect than warmth.’
    • ‘One of the reasons that I love Brendan the way I do is because he is a kind and generous person with enough room in his heart for the most prickly among us.’
    • ‘People are prickly and difficult, but things - ah, they're a different matter.’
    • ‘My brother is prickly when it comes to sales reps - he sees them as a necessary evil.’
    • ‘Eventually they cohabited and married but things were never that simple for the prickly couple who were both too independent to settle easily into married life.’
    • ‘This is understandable since most of them take exceptional care of their face, and don't want the unnecessary irritation of a prickly face against theirs.’
    • ‘Gooseberry bushes can be similarly pruned but take out some of the old shoots from the centre of the shrub to keep it open and to make it easier to pick the fruit from these very prickly customers.’
    • ‘His sometimes prickly personality could work against him.’
    • ‘Venal, lazy, irascible, horny, prickly - he's always living by his wits in situations that require anything but.’
    • ‘While he is prickly in his dealings with the media, O'Sullivan is an avid student of the press, feeding journalists just enough juicy morsels.’
    • ‘I have learnt how to establish a healthy working rapport with difficult, prickly people with whom I have precious little in common.’
    irritable, irascible, peevish, fractious, fretful, cross, crabbed, crabby, crotchety, cantankerous, curmudgeonly, disagreeable, miserable, morose, petulant, pettish, peppery, on edge, edgy, impatient, complaining, querulous, bitter, moody, huffy, grumpy, scratchy, ill-tempered, bad-tempered, ill-natured, ill-humoured, sullen, surly, sulky, sour, churlish, touchy, testy, tetchy, grouchy, snappish, waspish, crusty, bilious, liverish, dyspeptic, splenetic, choleric
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1(of a subject, issue, etc.) likely to cause offence or controversy.
      ‘this is a prickly subject’
      • ‘Handwringing over prickly privacy issues has, of course, inspired many books in recent years.’
      • ‘I decided to change the subject; grades and siblings and family often lead to prickly conversations.’
      • ‘One might assume Kiley's tough negotiating skills and high standards would make for some prickly dealings with her newspaper colleagues.’
      • ‘The day's most prickly moment surrounded one of this election year's hottest issues, and encapsulated the risky nature of an unscreened, unscripted town hall meeting.’
      • ‘Some prickly problems of racial and economic accessibility that one senses when visiting the country's galleries and museums were nowhere in evidence.’
      • ‘Pilot seniority is paramount to the pilot group as a whole, and the Flight Options CEO is letting the pilots themselves solve this prickly problem.’
      • ‘Yet nationhood is such a prickly issue, it overwhelms even great tragedy.’
      • ‘Perhaps movie-makers see it as a prickly subject, limp as a film theme, a let-down for audiences.’
      • ‘This ‘needs assessment’ helps the band figure out some of its clients' prickly organizational issues, which they then transform into song.’
      • ‘Although currently regulated, trade in hippo ivory is not banned, and enforcing trade quotas remains a prickly problem.’
      • ‘What saves the film from being boring is the spark in Anna Friel's performance as the complex and courageous displaced bride and the prickly relationship between herself and her disapproving new family.’
      • ‘You never have to worry that Mowat will press his interviewees on prickly issues.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Red roses might melt your lover's heart, but they present a prickly problem unless your wallet is loaded.’
      • ‘Those issues were as prickly and elusive then as they are now.’
      • ‘Like many issues in a prickly first meeting for 2002 on Tuesday night, Lismore's 12 elected representatives could find little to agree on.’
      • ‘This is a highly readable, jargon-free treatise on a notoriously prickly subject, intended for general readers rather than academics.’
      • ‘Consider that if this is a guy you'd marry, this is a guy with whom you should be able to bring up tricky prickly stuff, scary though it is.’
      • ‘One is less used to having the prickly complex of historiographical issues actually sorted out and straightforwardly addressed.’
      • ‘Diversification can be a prickly topic, though, because there are no hard and fast rules about how many your should own to have a truly diversified portfolio.’

Pronunciation:

prickly

/ˈprɪkli/