Definitions

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

  • noun Any of various clump-forming, perennial Australian grasses, chiefly of the genus Triodia, growing in arid regions and having awl-shaped, pointed leaves.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In Australia, any one of several species of grasses having stiff, sharp-pointed leaves or spiny flower-clusters, especially the two following, distantly related species: Spinifex hirsutus, the hairy spinifex or spiny rolling-grass. See under rolling-grass.
  • noun Triodia irritans, the desert spinifex, more often called porcupine-grass. See porcupine-grass, 2.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Bot.) A genus of chiefly Australian grasses, the seeds of which bear an elastic spine. Spinifex hirsutus (black grass) and Spinifex longifolius are useful as sand binders. Spinifex paradoxusis a valuable perennial fodder plant. Also, a plant of this genus.
  • noun Any of several Australian grasses of the genus Tricuspis, which often form dense, almost impassable growth, their leaves being stiff and sharp-pointed.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun An Australian coastal grass in genus Spinifex

Etymologies

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

[New Latin Spīnifex, former genus name : Latin spīna, thorn + Latin -fex; see dhē- in Indo-European roots.]

Examples

  • Triodia: Sometimes called spinifex, or porcupine grass, is a true desert plant, and at the end of each leaf it is so armed with short prickles that horses dread going through it, and stock never touch it except when it is very young or they are starving.

    Journal of Landsborough's Expedition from Carpentaria In search of Burke and Wills

  • The slopes of the tableland were grassed with spinifex, which is almost worthless.

    Journal of Landsborough's Expedition from Carpentaria In search of Burke and Wills

  • The only game found in the spinifex is a kangaroo rat, commonly called the wirrup; but in the grassy openings there are many kangaroos, and often emus, also a rat known as the wurrung.

    Explorations in Australia, Illustrated,

  • Approaching the pillar from the south, the traveller must pass over a series of red sandhills, covered with some scrubs, and clothed near the ground with that abominable vegetable production, the so-called spinifex or porcupine grass -- botanically, the Triodia, or Festuca irritans.

    Australia Twice Traversed, Illustrated,

  • I am told that the term "spinifex," though generally employed by those who have the pleasure of the acquaintance of the plant, is wrongly used.

    Spinifex and Sand

  • There are two varieties of spinifex known to bushmen -- "spinifex" and

    Spinifex and Sand

  • After two hours on an empty highway, our driver dropped us off with a few cheerful words of warning about something called "spinifex" and a promise to pick us up in five days from Standley Chasm, the next trailhead accessible by ordinary vehicle.

    NYT > Home Page

  • After two hours on an empty highway, our driver dropped us off with a few cheerful words of warning about something called "spinifex" and a promise to pick us up in five days from Standley Chasm, the next trailhead accessible by ordinary vehicle.

    NYT > Home Page

  • After two hours on an empty highway, our driver dropped us off with a few cheerful words of warning about something called "spinifex" and a promise to pick us up in five days from Standley Chasm, the next trailhead accessible by ordinary vehicle.

    NYT > Home Page

  • After two hours on an empty highway, our driver dropped us off with a few cheerful words of warning about something called "spinifex" and a promise to pick us up in five days from Standley Chasm, the next trailhead accessible by ordinary vehicle.

    NYT > Home Page

Comments

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  • Neat word. Thanks!

    July 25, 2007