from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The act of piercing or pricking.
  • noun The sensation of being pierced or pricked.
  • noun A persistent or sharply painful feeling of sorrow or remorse.
  • noun A small, sharp, local pain, such as that made by a needle or bee sting.
  • noun A small mark or puncture made by a pointed object.
  • noun A pointed object, such as an ice pick, goad, or thorn.
  • noun Chiefly British A hare's track or footprint.
  • noun Vulgar Slang A penis.
  • noun Vulgar Slang A person considered to be mean or contemptible, especially a man.
  • intransitive verb To puncture lightly.
  • intransitive verb To make (a hole) by puncturing something.
  • intransitive verb To spur (a horse).
  • intransitive verb To affect with a mental or emotional pang, as of sorrow or remorse.
  • intransitive verb To impel as if with a spur; stimulate or provoke.
  • intransitive verb To mark or delineate on a surface by means of small punctures.
  • intransitive verb To pierce the quick of (a horse's hoof) while shoeing.
  • intransitive verb To transplant (seedlings, for example) before final planting.
  • intransitive verb To cause to stand erect or point upward.
  • intransitive verb To pierce or puncture something or cause a pricking feeling.
  • intransitive verb To feel a pang or twinge from being pricked.
  • intransitive verb To spur a horse on.
  • intransitive verb To ride at a gallop.
  • intransitive verb To stand erect; point upward.
  • idiom (prick up (one's) ears) To listen with attentive interest.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A slender pointed instrument or other thing capable of puncturing; something sharp-pointed.
  • noun A thorn; spine; prickle.
  • noun A skewer.
  • noun A goad. [Obsolete or prov. Eng.] The penis. [Low.] A kind of eel-spear. [Eng.]
  • noun Same as pricket, 1.
  • noun A point; dot; small mark.
  • noun Specifically— A mark used in writing or printing, as a vowel-point or a comma.
  • noun In archery, the point in the center of a target at which aim is taken; the white; also, the target itself, or, in the plural, a pair of targets, one at the top and the other at the bottom of the range.
  • noun A mark on a dial noting the hour; hence, a point of time.
  • noun A mark denoting degree; pitch; point.
  • noun A mathematical point.
  • noun In music, a note or point: so called from the dot or mark that formed its head.
  • noun The act or process of puncturing or pricking.
  • noun A puncture.
  • noun The print of the foot of a hare or deer on the ground.
  • noun plural In tanning, an appearance as of minute punctures in hides soaked in water until decomposition begins.
  • noun Figuratively, that which pierces, stings, goads, or incites the mind.
  • noun A small roll: as, a prick of spun-yarn; a prick of tobacco.
  • To pierce with a sharp point; puncture; wound.
  • To fix or insert by the point: as, to prick a knife into a board.
  • To transfix or impale.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English prica, from Proto-Germanic. Cognate with West Frisian prik ("small hole"), Dutch prik ("point, small stick"), Icelandic prik ("dot, small stick"). Pejorative context came from prickers, or witch-hunters.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English prikken, from Old English prician


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word prick.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • A tube is stuck up my prick, and a bladder carcinoma diagnosed. One does not recall Piccinni.

    - Peter Reading, C, 1984

    July 4, 2008

  • Finally, someone is willing to say what they really mean:

    "His top contenders are said to include Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Less traditional choices mentioned include former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, an abortion-rights supporter, and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democratic vice presidential prick in 2000 who now is an independent."

    -AP, Obama Veep Announcement Expected in Coming Days

    August 20, 2008

  • Skipvia, thank you, that made my night (and Errata).

    August 20, 2008

  • *snufflesnort!*

    August 20, 2008

  • Hahaha! Good grief, where are the proofreaders?

    August 20, 2008