Definition of prickly in English:

prickly

adjective

  • 1Covered in prickles.

    ‘masses of prickly brambles’
    • ‘One plant we should see more of is Rubus biflorus, the ornamental bramble, whose prickly stems are covered in a white, waxy bloom.’
    • ‘The fruit is tough and prickly on the outside, tender and sweet on the inside.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The perfectly symmetrical prickly balled yacca or Australia grass tree, which takes 100 years to grow a central trunk, is my favourite.’
    • ‘Prickly pear cactus grows here too - evidence of the arid conditions.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘An anonymous member of the public found the injured hedgehog in her garden and took the prickly fellow to the Swan Sanctuary last Wednesday.’
    • ‘The true protectors of clownfish in the ocean, however, are not parents but rather prickly, stinging sea anemones that live on reefs.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Like prickly pear thorns, needle grass penetrated moccasins and leather leggings and punctured the skin.’
    • ‘He headed down the street to the opposite corner, where a large, prickly bush had grown through the fence, covering the entire corner.’
    • ‘I liked the stealthy hiding part, often choosing the excellent cover provided by a set of prickly Pyracantha bushes in a neighboring yard.’
    • ‘We wandered through a maze of prickly bushes and speculated about the people who had lived there once.’
    • ‘Because of their prickly nature, cacti could also make life difficult for farm workers.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The tropical prickly ash has a temperate equivalent called the toothache tree.’
    • ‘It's also worthwhile surrounding your pots and trays with netting (or prickly holly clippings) to prevent these rodents digging up the seeds.’
    • ‘We kept driving, past cedar thickets and a pasture studded with blooming prickly pear cactus.’
    • ‘Once, out picking blackberries, he over-reached and fell headlong into the prickly bramble.’
    spiky, spiked, thorny, barbed, spiny, pronged, bristled, bristly
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    1. 1.1 Resembling or feeling like prickles.
      ‘his hair was prickly and short’
      • ‘His face was prickly from the short, protruding facial hairs on his face.’
      • ‘A majestic theme emerges, its clarity disrupted by prickly guitars and scrambled flutterings that threaten to bury it completely.’
      • ‘I still remember his gentle brown eyes, set in his warm and prickly skin, and framed by his delicate waves of deep mahogany.’
      • ‘Peppery, spicy and prickly with good tannins there are ample amounts of redcurrant and raspberry fruit flavours present in this wine.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The ground was prickly and Erial wore no shoes but her feet were tough and soon she made it down to the bank.’
      • ‘During her last days, she felt most difficulties in eating because her lips and mouth were so prickly and painful.’
      • ‘The ground was uneven, with little prickly pieces of grass.’
      • ‘The wash is quite savoury with a winning rush of prickly white pepper spice at the finish.’
      spiky, spiked, thorny, barbed, spiny, pronged, bristled, bristly
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    2. 1.2 Having or causing a tingling or itching sensation.
      ‘my skin feels prickly’
      ‘a dress that was prickly around the neck’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If you are overweight or sweat easily you are more likely to have prickly heat.’
      • ‘It's this so-called bronchial constriction that creates the tight, prickly sensation in your chest, and aerobic exercise only compounds the problem.’
      • ‘My happy muse was interrupted by the prickly, nettling sensation of being watched.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Those were the things I was thinking when I got a prickly sensation at the back of my neck - like I was being watched.’
      • ‘She felt a prickly sensation rise over skin, as she shivered.’
      • ‘Prickly heat is a very itchy rash that appears in hot, humid weather.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A prickly and tingly sensation ran up through my body as I armed my head back in sorrow.’
      • ‘To my horror I realized my eyes were all prickly and my palms sticky.’
      • ‘I felt the hot, prickly sensation I got when I was nervous.’
      • ‘He had the distinct prickly sensation on the back of his neck that usually meant he was being watched.’
      • ‘It was a prickly sensation on his forehead - cool and wet as it trickled down his temples, like drips of water.’
      tingly, tingling, prickling, stinging, smarting, itching, itchy, creeping, crawling
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  • 2(of a person) ready to take offense.

    • ‘He was awkward, prickly, ill-tempered, condescending and unpredictable.’
    • ‘But his prickly sense of slighted dignity and obsessive contempt for other people's ethical squalor inevitably drags him down.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Am I being prickly, or do I have a valid complaint?’
    • ‘Suddenly Betty comes alive as a prickly character with her own issues.’
    • ‘He could be very prickly, especially with people who disagreed with him.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘His sometimes prickly personality could work against him.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘People are prickly and difficult, but things - ah, they're a different matter.’
    • ‘Venal, lazy, irascible, horny, prickly - he's always living by his wits in situations that require anything but.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘My brother is prickly when it comes to sales reps - he sees them as a necessary evil.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The people are prickly on the outside, but a lot friendlier once you get to know them.’
    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
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    1. 2.1 Liable to cause someone to take offense.
      ‘this is a prickly subject’
      • ‘Perhaps movie-makers see it as a prickly subject, limp as a film theme, a let-down for audiences.’
      • ‘I decided to change the subject; grades and siblings and family often lead to prickly conversations.’
      • ‘You never have to worry that Mowat will press his interviewees on prickly issues.’
      • ‘Handwringing over prickly privacy issues has, of course, inspired many books in recent years.’
      • ‘This is a highly readable, jargon-free treatise on a notoriously prickly subject, intended for general readers rather than academics.’
      • ‘One is less used to having the prickly complex of historiographical issues actually sorted out and straightforwardly addressed.’
      • ‘Like many issues in a prickly first meeting for 2002 on Tuesday night, Lismore's 12 elected representatives could find little to agree on.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Red roses might melt your lover's heart, but they present a prickly problem unless your wallet is loaded.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Some prickly problems of racial and economic accessibility that one senses when visiting the country's galleries and museums were nowhere in evidence.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Those issues were as prickly and elusive then as they are now.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘One might assume Kiley's tough negotiating skills and high standards would make for some prickly dealings with her newspaper colleagues.’
      • ‘This ‘needs assessment’ helps the band figure out some of its clients' prickly organizational issues, which they then transform into song.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Yet nationhood is such a prickly issue, it overwhelms even great tragedy.’
      • ‘Although currently regulated, trade in hippo ivory is not banned, and enforcing trade quotas remains a prickly problem.’
      problematic, awkward, ticklish, tricky, delicate, sensitive, difficult, hard, baffling, perplexing, knotty, thorny, tough, troublesome, bothersome, trying, taxing, irksome, vexatious, worrying, concerning
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Pronunciation

prickly

/ˈprɪk(ə)li//ˈprik(ə)lē/