Definition of spiny in US English:



  • 1Full of or covered with prickles.

    ‘a spiny cactus’
    • ‘Avoid thorny and spiny plants, which can cause serious eye injuries.’
    • ‘Some of the cacti are extremely large and most are very spiny.’
    • ‘But only the spiny puffer combines inflation and pointy spikes in one spectacular defense mechanism.’
    • ‘Right in the middle, covering the short spiny grass, was a huge, brilliantly white Colosseum that had seen better days, but still stood sturdy and still.’
    • ‘We sharpened sticks with our pocketknives to throw at the ever-present lizards - giant spiny creatures that made the trees their home.’
    • ‘Spicules are loosely interlocked to form a large and spiny subspherical shell.’
    • ‘Seingô shrieked in rage, and clawed out at him with spiny, thorny arms.’
    • ‘They were spiny and long, tipped with sharp spikes.’
    • ‘Spotted about the rocks and slope is a fairly full selection of UK starfish - common and spiny, biscuit-coloured seven-armed and brightly coloured sunstars.’
    • ‘In their desert habitats their diet consists of spiny cactus, yucca pods, creosote bush, cholla, pinyon nuts, seeds, prickly pear, and any available green vegetation.’
    • ‘Buckeyes are dropping from the trees - watch out for the spiny ones - and squirrels bide their time, waiting for undefended focaccia crumbs to hit the ground.’
    • ‘Don't be the straggler the predators pick off, be the hedgehog with the pointy spiny spikes - more effort than you're worth.’
    • ‘Members of the genus Heriaeus (spiky grass crab spider) are covered with long setae giving them a spiny appearance.’
    • ‘Both the Greater Weever and the Lesser Weever are capable of inflicting a sharp and painful sting from the spiny rays of the first dorsal fin.’
    • ‘The path through an entrance pavilion (embellished by a Bertoia sculpture) opens into a magical stony garden, a fragment of desert outcrop sprouting spiny cacti and frangipani.’
    • ‘A key characteristic is their well-defined spiny hairs, which cover their body and give them a prickly appearance.’
    • ‘Also, the undersides of an osprey's feet are covered in spiny spicules which prevent fish from wriggling free.’
    • ‘Echimyids earn their common name because most species have spiny or bristly hairs at least on their backs and rumps.’
    • ‘There's Toad who has a sharp, spiny tongue about 15 feet long that'll jump out and encircle you and toss you up against the wall.’
    • ‘Prunus tells us that it is a member of the plum family and spinosa means that it is spiny.’
    prickly, spiky, thorny, thistly, briary, brambly, bristly, bristled, spiked, barbed, pronged, scratchy, sharp
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    1. 1.1informal Difficult to understand or handle.
      ‘a spiny problem’
      • ‘More often then not, in any SEO project, the spiny issue of homepage word-count arises in the process of optimizing a client's site.’
      • ‘Hi All, I know this is a very spiny issue, but please refrain from posting ads offering analytical services.’
      • ‘But apparently enamored of their own hype aura, they've spelled out ‘too cool for school’ in wracked and twisted pipe cleaners and call the tangled and spiny mess a second album.’
      difficult, puzzling, perplexing, baffling, bewildering, mystifying, knotty, thorny, ticklish, problematic, enigmatic, complicated, complex, intricate, involved, tangled, insoluble, unfathomable, impenetrable, incomprehensible, unanswerable
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