Prickly things are sharp and spiky, while prickly people are quick to be offended or irritated. Ouch!

A prickly tag in the collar of your new shirt can make you uncomfortable all day, and so can a prickly co-worker whose feelings seem to get hurt by everything you say. Porcupines and cactuses are prickly, and so is the next-door neighbor who is constantly irritated with you. The first thing that was described as prickly, in the 1570s, was a holly leaf.

Definitions of prickly
  1. adjective
    very irritable
    “he became prickly and spiteful”
    synonyms: bristly, splenetic, waspish
    having an irritable and unpleasant disposition
  2. adjective
    having or covered with protective barbs or quills or spines or thorns or setae etc.
    synonyms: barbed, barbellate, briary, briery, bristled, bristly, burred, burry, setaceous, setose, spiny, thorny
    (used of plants and animals) furnished with bristles and thorns
Word Family

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