any of several rodents covered with stiff, sharp, erectile spines or quills, as Erethizon dorsatum of North America.

1375–1425; late Middle English porcupyne, variant of porcapyne; replacing porke despyne < Middle French porc d'espine thorny pig. See pork, spine

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World English Dictionary
porcupine (ˈpɔːkjʊˌpaɪn)
any of various large hystricomorph rodents of the families Hystricidae, of Africa, Indonesia, S Europe, and S Asia, and Erethizontidae, of the New World. All species have a body covering of protective spines or quills
[C14 porc despyne pig with spines, from Old French porc espin; see pork, spine]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

c.1400, porke despyne, from O.Fr. porc-espin (c.1220), lit. "spiny pig," from L. porcus "hog" + spina "thorn, spine." The word had many forms in M.E. and early Mod.E., including portepyn, porkpen, porkenpick, porpoynt, and Shakespeare's porpentine (in "Hamlet").
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
He cut the tongue from a slow porcupine and watched it stand in surprise at his
  feet, bleeding until it toppled.
Porcupine quills sit in a vase on one of his bookshelves.
Porcupine quills are barbed, and tend to work their way deeper into flesh over
  time if not extracted.
The porcupine has a small face, with a blunt muzzle, and a tapering head and
Images for porcupine
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