From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishpricklyprick‧ly /ˈprɪkli/ adjective 1 HBPcovered with thin sharp points a plant with prickly leaves► see thesaurus at sharp2 if your skin feels prickly, it stings slightly His skin felt painful and prickly. The base of my neck was prickly with sweat.3 FEEL HOT/COLD/TIRED ETCsomething that is prickly makes your skin sting slightly a prickly woollen sweater4 informalANNOY someone who is prickly gets annoyed or offended easily She was prickly and sharp with me. As she got older, she became more prickly and forgetful.5 PROBLEMa prickly subject causes a lot of disagreements and difficulties We finally turned to the prickly question of who was going to pay. —prickliness noun [uncountable]
Examples from the Corpusprickly• But his interference in this issue was making her prickly.• Problems at the office were making Todd very prickly.• As prickly as a saguaro cactus.• prickly bushes• The prickly distrust had faded to be replaced by an almost oily helpfulness.• Although they are not completely spiny, they are nevertheless prickly enough to repel all but the most desperate of predators.• A prickly heat pressed against his face; the teakettle made hissing sounds in the night.• Myer carefully avoided the prickly issue of offshore drilling rights.• My eyes feel all hot and my head's prickly like some one's pulled my hair.• Keep prickly plants and bushes away from any paths and seats in the garden.• Every president needs a prickly political hairshirt, and Clinton has one in Mario Cuomo.• Sea urchins and starfish feel prickly to the touch.• His cheeks were prickly with a two-day growth of beard.