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.

1400–50; late Middle English stykylbak, equivalent to Old English sticol scaly + bæc back1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
stickleback (ˈstɪkəlˌbæk)
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
[C15: from Old English stickel prick, sting + back1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1400, from O.E. sticel "prick, sting" (from P.Gmc. *stik- "pierce, prick, be sharp;" see stick (v.)) + back.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
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.
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