One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A hard, pointed projection on part of a plant or animal; a spine or prickle.
needle, quill, bristle, barb, spike, prickleView synonyms
- ‘Others are barbed like the spicula of a bee's sting.’
- ‘In certain genera with a simple spike this is clearly proved by the structure of the terminal flower or spicula.’
- ‘The prickly ash is armed with spiculae, like the locust.’
- ‘Some of the fibres are thickly covered with extremely minute spicula, occasionally aggregated into little tuffs; and hence they have a hairy appearance.’
- 1.1 A sharp-pointed crystalline structure.
- ‘The frozen moisture may fall in spiculae or crystals of ice.’
- ‘The spiculae of hoar frost were of all lengths, from an inch downward.’
- ‘The calcareous matter beneath the lava, and especially that forming the crystalline spicula, could not have been subjected to the effects of a passing stream.’
- ‘We have only to suppose, the particles which are employed in crystallization, to be endowed with a tendency to form spiculae.’
Mid 18th century: modern Latin, diminutive form of Latin spica ‘spike’.
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