Old English pricel "thing to prick with, instrument for puncturing; goad; small sharp point," from the same source as Old English prician (see prick (v.)) with instrumental suffix -el (1). Compare Middle Low German prickel, Dutch prikkel. From mid-15c. as "point or thorn of a plant," later also used of animal spines.
1510s, "to prick slightly," from prickle (n.). By 1855 as "to cause a prickling sensation in." Related: Prickled; prickling.
1570s, "spiny, full of sharp points, armed with prickles" (originally of holly leaves), from prickle (n.) + -y (2). Figurative sense of "irritable, quick to anger" is recorded by 1862. Prickly heat "inflammatory disorder of the sweat glands" is from 1736, so called for the sensation; prickly pear, of the fruit of a certain cactus, is from 1760 (earlier prickle pear, 1610s). Related: Prickliness.
c. 1400, "backbone," later "thornlike part" (early 15c.), from Old French espine "thorn, prickle; backbone, spine" (12c., Modern French épine), from Latin spina "backbone," originally "thorn, prickle" (figuratively, in plural, "difficulties, perplexities"), from PIE *spe-ina-, from root *spei- "sharp point" (see spike (n.1)). Meaning "the back of a book" is first attested 1922.
"sweet briar," c. 1400, from French églantine, from Old French aiglent "dog rose," from Vulgar Latin *aquilentus "rich in prickles," from Latin aculeus "spine, prickle," diminutive of acus "a needle" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce").
mid-14c., "chisel with a concave blade," from Old French gouge "a gouge" (14c.), from Late Latin gubia, alteration of gulbia "hollow beveled chisel," probably from Gaulish (compare Old Irish gulban "prick, prickle," Welsh gylfin "beak"). Meaning "an imposition, a cheat" is from 1845, American English colloquial.
c. 1600, figurative, "pointed, stinging," of writing, from Latin aculeatus "having a sting; thorny, prickly," also figurative, from aculeus "a sting, prickle," diminutive of acus "a needle" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce"). From 1660s in a literal sense, in zoology, "furnished with a sting;" by 1870 in botany.
globular fruit of a tree of Indonesia, 1580s, from Malay (Austronesian) durian, from duri "thorn, prickle." So called for its rind.
The durian is deemed by the Siamese the king of fruits. Its smell is offensive to European sense, and I have heard it compared to the stink of carrion and onions mingled. But the exquisite flavour of the fruit renders even its fragrance attractive to its habitués, and it is the only fruit which has ever a considerable money-value in the Siamese market. [Sir John Bowring, "The Kingdom and People of Siam," London, 1857]
"small, hanging piece from a garment," c. 1400, of uncertain origin but probably from a Scandinavian source (compare Norwegian tagg "point, prong, barb," Swedish tagg "prickle, thorn") and related to Middle Low German tagge "branch, twig, spike"), from Proto-Germanic *tag-. The sense development might be "point of metal at the end of a cord, string, etc.," hence "part hanging loose." Or perhaps ultimately from PIE *dek-, a root forming words referring to "fringe; horsetail; locks of hair" (see tail (n.1)).
Meaning "a label" is first recorded 1835; sense of "automobile license-plate" is recorded from 1935, originally underworld slang. Meaning "an epithet, popular designation" is recorded from 1961, hence slang verb meaning "write graffiti in public places" (1990).
also sherd, "piece or fragment," especially "piece of baked clay, piece of broken pottery or tile," from Old English sceard "incision, cleft, gap; potshard, a fragment, broken piece," from Proto-Germanic *skardaz (source also of Middle Dutch schaerde "a fragment, a crack," Dutch schaard "a flaw, a fragment," German Scharte "a notch," Danish skaar "chink, potsherd"), a past participle from PIE root *sker- (1) "to cut."
Meaning "fragment of broken earthenware" developed in late Old English. Also used, by Gower (late 14c.), as "scale of a dragon." French écharde "prickle, splinter" is a Germanic loan-word.