prickly (comparative pricklier, superlative prickliest)

  1. Covered with sharp points.
    The prickly pear is a cactus; you have to peel it before eating it to remove the spines and the tough skin.
  2. Easily irritated.
    He has a prickly personality. He doesn't get along with people because he is easily set off.
  3. Difficult; complicated; (figuratively) hairy or thorny.
    It was a prickly situation.
Synonyms Translations Translations Translations Adverb


  1. In a prickly manner.
    • 2016, David Thomson, Biggest lesson of the 2016 Oscars? The Academy should be scrapped (in The Guardian, 3 March 2016)
      Striding across stage in his bright white jacket, his voice soaring and cracking – like Charlie Parker’s – he was nervous but prickly eloquent, caustic yet encouraging.

prickly (plural pricklies)

  1. (colloquial) Something that gives a pricking sensation; a sharp object.
    • 2002, William A. Luckey, Long Ride to Nowhere (page 75)
      Below, way out on the flat, Blue had seen a light green that could be graze but up here was nothing 'cept all kinds of prickly bushes, and too many of them. Ground-spreading pricklies that reached out to jump at a horse's belly […]
    • 2016, Richard J. Sklba, ‎Joseph Juknialis, Easter Fire: Fire Starters for the Easter Weekday Homily (page 113)
      Dad, I need to ride on your shoulders because the pricklies hurt my feet.

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