prick his ears

prick

[prik]
noun
1.
a puncture made by a needle, thorn, or the like.
2.
a sharp point; prickle.
3.
the act of pricking: the prick of a needle.
4.
the state or sensation of being pricked.
5.
a sharp pain caused by or as if by being pricked; twinge.
6.
the pointed end of a prickspur.
7.
Slang: Vulgar.
b.
an obnoxious or contemptible person.
8.
Archaic. a goad for oxen.
9.
Obsolete. a small or minute mark, a dot, or a point.
10.
Obsolete. any pointed instrument or weapon.
verb (used with object)
11.
to pierce with a sharp point; puncture.
12.
to affect with sharp pain, as from piercing.
13.
to cause sharp mental pain to; sting, as with remorse, anger, etc.: His conscience pricked him.
14.
to urge on with or as if with a goad or spur: My duty pricks me on.
15.
to mark (a surface) with pricks or dots in tracing something.
16.
to mark or trace (something) on a surface by pricks or dots.
17.
to cause to stand erect or point upward (usually followed by up ): The dog pricked his ears at the sound of the bell.
18.
Farriery.
a.
to lame (a horse) by driving a nail improperly into its hoof.
b.
to nick: to prick a horse's tail.
19.
to measure (distance, the size of an area, etc.) on a chart with dividers (usually followed by off ).
20.
Horticulture. to transplant (a seedling) into a container that provides more room for growth (usually followed by out or off ).
verb (used without object)
21.
to perform the action of piercing or puncturing something.
22.
to have a sensation of being pricked.
23.
to spur or urge a horse on; ride rapidly.
24.
to rise erect or point upward, as the ears of an animal (usually followed by up ).
Idioms
25.
kick against the pricks, to resist incontestable facts or authority; protest uselessly: In appealing the case again, you will just be kicking against the pricks.
26.
prick up one's ears, to become very alert; listen attentively: The reporter pricked up his ears at the prospect of a scoop.

Origin:
before 1000; (noun) Middle English prike; Old English prica, price dot, point; (v.) Middle English priken, Old English prician; cognate with Dutch, Low German prik point

pricker, noun
prickingly, adverb
unpricked, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
prick (prɪk)
 
vb (usually foll by up) (usually foll by out or off)
1.  a.  to make (a small hole) in (something) by piercing lightly with a sharp point
 b.  to wound in this manner
2.  (intr) to cause or have a piercing or stinging sensation
3.  to cause to feel a sharp emotional pain: knowledge of such poverty pricked his conscience
4.  to puncture or pierce
5.  to mark, delineate, or outline by dots or punctures
6.  to rise or raise erect; point: the dog pricked his ears up at his master's call
7.  to transplant (seedlings) into a larger container
8.  (often foll by off) nautical to measure or trace (a course, distance, etc) on a chart with dividers
9.  archaic to rouse or impel; urge on
10.  archaic (intr) to ride fast on horseback; spur a horse on
11.  prick up one's ears to start to listen attentively; become interested
 
n
12.  the act of pricking or the condition or sensation of being pricked
13.  a mark made by a sharp point; puncture
14.  a sharp emotional pain resembling the physical pain caused by being pricked: a prick of conscience
15.  a taboo slang word for penis
16.  slang, derogatory an obnoxious or despicable man
17.  an instrument or weapon with a sharp point, such as a thorn, goad, bee sting, etc
18.  the footprint or track of an animal, esp a hare
19.  obsolete a small mark caused by pricking a surface; dot; point
20.  kick against the pricks to hurt oneself by struggling against something in vain
 
[Old English prica point, puncture; related to Dutch prik, Icelandic prik short stick, Swedish prick point, stick]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

prick
O.E. prica (n.) "point, puncture, particle;" prician (v.) "to prick," from W.Gmc. *prikojanan (cf. Low Ger. pricken, Du. prikken "to prick"); Dan. prikke "to mark with dots," Swed. pricka "to point, prick, mark with dots" are probably from Low German. Meaning "pointed weapon, dagger" is first attested
1552. Earliest recorded use for "penis" is 1592. My prick was used 16c.-17c. as a term of endearment by "immodest maids" for their boyfriends. As a term of abuse, it is attested from 1929. To prick up one's ears is 1587, originally of animals with pointed ears (prycke-eared, of foxes, is from 1523). To kick against the pricks (Acts ix.5, first in a translation of 1382) is probably from sense of "a goad for oxen" (c.1350).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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