porcupine

Definitions

  • Porcupine, Snake, and Company
    Porcupine, Snake, and Company
  • WordNet 3.6
    • n porcupine relatively large rodents with sharp erectile bristles mingled with the fur
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Additional illustrations & photos:

THE PORCUPINE THE PORCUPINE
The porcupine stood in the shade but the background was light The porcupine stood in the shade but the background was light
Chief Porcupine Chief Porcupine
THE PORCUPINE AND THE SNAKES THE PORCUPINE AND THE SNAKES

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: The quills of a porcupine are soft when they are born
    • Porcupine (Zoöl) Any Old Word rodent of the genus Hystrix, having the back covered with long, sharp, erectile spines or quills, sometimes a foot long. The common species of Europe and Asia (Hystrix cristata) is the best known.
    • Porcupine (Zoöl) Any species of Erethizon and related genera, native of America. They are related to the true porcupines, but have shorter spines, and are arboreal in their habits. The Canada porcupine (Erethizon dorsatus) is a well known species.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
  • Interesting fact: Early Romans used to use porcupine quills as toothpicks
    • n porcupine A hystricomorphic rodent quadruped of the family Hystricidæ, of which there are several genera and many species, representing two subfamilies, the Hystricinæ or Old World porcupines, which are all terrestrial and fossorial animals, and the Sphingurinæ or New World porcupines, more or less arboreal, and in some cases having a prehensile tail. The spines or quills with which these animals are beset reach their highest development in species of Hystrix proper, as H. cristata, the common porcupine of southern Europe and northern Africa. Such quills may be a foot long; they are prettily variegated in color, and much used for penholders. Brush-tailed porcupines constitute the genus Atherura, and inhabit the Malay region and Africa. The only North American porcupines belong to the genus Erethizon, of which there are 2 species, the common eastern E. dorsatus, and the western yellow haired E. epixanthus; in both the spines are only an inch or two long, and mostly hidden in long hair. They are of large size, reaching 2 ½ feet in length, and of ungainly form and ugly visage, with an extremely stout and clumsy body and broad, flat, blunt tail. One or the other species is found from the northern limit of trees through the greater part of the United States. The spines grow mostly on the rump and back of the broad flat tail; they are quite loosely attached, and when the animal slaps with its tail (its usual mode of defense) some quills may be flirted to a distance. Something like this, no doubt, gives rise to the popular notion that the porcupine “shoots” its quills at an enemy. These small quills are strikingly like the spines of the prickly-pear (Opuntia) in size and shape, and like them are minutely barbed at the end, so that they stick in the flesh of one who receives a blow from the tail. They are much used by the Indians for trimming buckskin garments and ornamenting moccasins. Other American tree-porcupines constitute the genera Sphingurus and Chætomys; they are of smaller size and arboreal habits, and range from southern Mexico through a great part of South America. See Hystricidæ, Hystrix; also cut under prehensile-tailed.
    • n porcupine An apparatus for heckling flax.
    • n porcupine A cylindrical heckle for worsted yarn.
    • porcupine To cause to stand up like a porcupine's quills.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: An adult porcupine has approximately 30,000 quills on its body, which are replaced every year
    • n Porcupine por′kū-pīn one of the largest of rodent quadrupeds, covered with spines or quills.
    • ***

Etymology

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
OE. porkepyn, porpentine, OF. porc-espi, F. porc-épic,cf. It. porco spino, porco spinoso, Sp. puerco espino, puerco espin, fr. L. porcus, swine + spina, thorn, spine). The last part of the French word is perhaps a corruption from the It. or Sp.; cf. F. épi, ear, a spike of grain, L. spica,. See Pork Spike a large nail, Spine
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
O. Fr. porc espin—L. porcus, a pig, spina, a spine.

Usage

In literature:

But, I reckon it was his own sheep you killed, 'cause it had a porcupine collar same pattern as the trimmings of his shirt.
"The Black Wolf Pack" by Dan Beard
Nevertheless spring had called, and even the sluggish blood of the porcupine responded.
"Followers of the Trail" by Zoe Meyer
Into the Yukon Flats empty the Porcupine River, Birch Creek and other streams.
"A Woman who went to Alaska" by May Kellogg Sullivan
The Strawberry pointed to her moccasins, and then put her finger on the porcupine-quills with which they were embroidered.
"The Settlers in Canada" by Frederick Marryat
How it will make every bristle to stand on end like quills upon the fretful porcupine!
"The Modern Scottish Minstrel, Volumes I-VI." by Various
It is highly probable that the movement was by way of the Porcupine River.
"Ten Thousand Miles with a Dog Sled" by Hudson Stuck
The breast, unlike theirs, was close, and beautifully embroidered with stained porcupine quills.
"The Scalp Hunters" by Mayne Reid
One species, the porcupine grass, bears a name that does not belie its character.
"Wealth of the World's Waste Places and Oceania" by Jewett Castello Gilson
There they hang like a lot of little Porcupines on the twigs of the tree.
"Woodland Tales" by Ernest Seton-Thompson
Even her mother, who is the only relative she has, is nothing but a fretful porcupine of a woman.
"Jewel Weed" by Alice Ames Winter
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In poetry:

"The Wild Beast Limited pulls out
With bustle and with fuss.
It's hard to seat the porcupine
And hippopotamus.
"August" by Nancy Byrd Turner
Oh, ponder, friend, the porcupine;
Refresh your recollection,
And sit a moment, to define
His means of self-protection.
"Parable For A Certain Virgin" by Dorothy Parker
My hair, at thought of dark design,
Or dynamitish fate,
Stood up like quills of porcupine,
But more than twice as straight.
"A Fowl Affair" by Hattie Howard
As well I might a hornet fear,
When the arm'd porcupine is near;
Or from a hissing squib retire,
When lightnings set the heavens on fire.
"To A Gentleman: Sitting Next to a Young Lady presents a Pop-Gun to the Author" by Samuel Bowden
There once was an arch Armadillo
Who built him a hut 'neath a willow;
He hadn't a bed
So he rested his head
On a young Porcupine for a pillow.
"The Arch Armadillo" by Carolyn Wells
Three 'coons come at his garbage. He be cross,
I figuring porcupine & took Sir poker
unbarring Mr door,
& then screen door. Ah, but the little 'coon,
hardly a foot (not counting tail) got in with two more at the porch-edge
"Dream Song 107: Three 'coons come at his garbage. He be cross" by John Berryman

In news:

Louise Erdrich's The Porcupine Year received multiple starred reviews and showed up on a bunch of blogs when it was released in September (including Debbie Reese's and Fuse#8's).
The Porcupine Year by Louise Erdrich.
Don't mess with Porcupines .
Fire, flood waters, porcupines .
Porcupines are rodents – big ones.
Porcupines are active year-round and typically live in earth dens, rock caves and hollow logs.
"Teddy Bear," The Porcupine , Doesn't Want To Share.
I swear that I can hear this Porcupine say "I want it" and "I like that".
Poisonous porcupine fish just can't swim.
During Pet Talk with Dr Jen Klabunde, we talked about the dangers that these animals can pose to your pets and how you can treat the situation if your dog or cat encounters a porcupine .
PORT ARTHUR — A couple of years ago we ran a photo of a porcupine road-killed at Sabine Pass.
"What happened to the porcupines .".
The black dwarf porcupine that lives in Brazilian rainforests south of the Amazon River is a species I seldom talk, write, or even think about.
Llano beats Glen Rose, faces Porcupines next.
The Syracuse Chiefs could soon take the field against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Porcupines .
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