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prick (prĭk)
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n.
1.
a. The act of piercing or pricking.
b. The sensation of being pierced or pricked.
2.
a. A persistent or sharply painful feeling of sorrow or remorse.
b. A small, sharp, local pain, such as that made by a needle or bee sting.
3. A small mark or puncture made by a pointed object.
4. A pointed object, such as an ice pick, goad, or thorn.
5. Chiefly British A hare's track or footprint.
6. Vulgar Slang A penis.
7. Vulgar Slang A person considered to be mean or contemptible, especially a man.
v. pricked, prick·ing, pricks
v.tr.
1.
a. To puncture lightly.
b. To make (a hole) by puncturing something.
2. To spur (a horse).
3. To affect with a mental or emotional pang, as of sorrow or remorse: criticism that pricked his conscience.
4. To impel as if with a spur; stimulate or provoke.
5. To mark or delineate on a surface by means of small punctures: prick a pattern on a board.
6. To pierce the quick of (a horse's hoof) while shoeing.
7. To transplant (seedlings, for example) before final planting.
8. To cause to stand erect or point upward: The dogs pricked their ears.
v.intr.
1. To pierce or puncture something or cause a pricking feeling.
2. To feel a pang or twinge from being pricked.
3.
a. To spur a horse on.
b. To ride at a gallop.
4. To stand erect; point upward: The dog's ears pricked at the noise.
Phrasal Verb:
prick off Nautical
To measure with dividers on a chart.
Idiom:
prick up (one's) ears
To listen with attentive interest.

[Middle English, from Old English prica, puncture.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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