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[spahy-nee] /ˈspaɪ ni/
adjective, spinier, spiniest.
abounding in or having spines; thorny, as a plant.
covered with or having sharp-pointed processes, as an animal.
in the form of a spine; resembling a spine; spinelike.
troublesome or difficult to handle; thorny:
a spiny problem.
Origin of spiny
1580-90; spine + -y1
Related forms
spininess, noun
nonspiny, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for spiny
  • The sharp edges of the blue spiny lizard will not protect it against climate change.
  • And so it has to be a spiny form of foliage, but held on the tree in such a way as not to collect snow.
  • In a species of spiny-headed worm, males use their cements on each other, trying to gum up their rivals.
  • When attacking sea urchins, triggers often flip them over, exposing their less spiny undersides.
  • Other important parts of the tropical region are dry tropical forests, tropical deciduous forests, and spiny desert regions.
  • Plants pollinated by fast-moving bees or flies may have spiny pollen that lodges easily between the insects' hairs.
  • Some males embrace females with spiny claspers in a viselike grip that causes damage.
  • Small animals such as the spiny water flea can travel unnoticed by hopping onto a kayak or other recreational equipment.
  • They do not spin webs but simply run down prey and grab them with their spiny legs.
  • The green spiny cactus contrasts with the exotic deep reds and oranges of the delicate bougainvillea.
British Dictionary definitions for spiny


adjective spinier, spiniest
(of animals) having or covered with quills or spines
(of plants) covered with spines; thorny
troublesome to handle; puzzling
shaped like a spine
Derived Forms
spininess, noun
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 spiny

1580s, from spine + -y (2).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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