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[stik-uh l-bak] /ˈstɪk əlˌbæk/
any of the small, pugnacious, spiny-backed fishes of the family Gasterosteidae, inhabiting northern fresh waters and sea inlets, the male of which builds and guards the nest.
Also called prickleback.
Origin of stickleback
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English stykylbak, equivalent to Old English sticol scaly + bæc back1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for stickleback
  • And asking a first-grader to do a full-on research project on something as unusual as the stickleback fish was a bit much.
  • It first infects invertebrates called copepods, which it causes to swim around more, making them easier prey for stickleback fish.
  • The stickleback is a bottom-dweller and has no need for an air bladder.
  • Another interesting adaptation is the stickleback courtship behavior.
  • These large trout attain their size by preying on smelt, stickleback, and dace along with numerous bugs and insects.
British Dictionary definitions for stickleback


any small teleost fish of the family Gasterosteidae, such as Gasterosteus aculeatus (three-spined stickleback) of rivers and coastal regions and G. pungitius (ten-spined stickleback) confined to rivers. They have a series of spines along the back and occur in cold and temperate northern regions
Word Origin
C15: from Old English stickel prick, sting + back1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for stickleback

c.1400, from Old English sticel "prick, sting" (from Proto-Germanic *stik- "pierce, prick, be sharp;" see stick (v.)) + back.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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