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.