- 1 covered with prickles a prickly bush The porcupine curled up in a prickly ball.
- 2causing you to feel as if your skin is touching something that is covered with prickles a prickly feeling The sweat made my skin feel all prickly.
- 3(informal) (of a person) easily annoyed or offended synonym touchy He can be very prickly. She's still a bit prickly about the whole incident.
- 4(of a decision, an issue, etc.) difficult to deal with because people have very different ideas about it synonym thorny Let's move on to the prickly subject of tax reform.