from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. Any of various rodents of the Old World family Hystricidae or the New World family Erethizontidae, having long, sharp, erectile quills interspersed with coarse hair.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. Any of several rodents covered with stiff, sharp, erectile, spines or quills (that stand straight up when the animal is attacked or surprised), belonging to one of two taxonomic families: Hystricidae (Old World porcupines) and Erethizontidae (New World porcupines).
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. 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.
- n. 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.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. 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.
- n. An apparatus for heckling flax.
- n. A cylindrical heckle for worsted yarn.
- To cause to stand up like a porcupine's quills.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. relatively large rodents with sharp erectile bristles mingled with the fur
Middle English porke despine, from Old French porc espin : Latin porcus, pig; + Latin spīna, thorn, spine.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Literally spiny-pig, from Latin porcus ("pig"), + spinus ("spine"). (Wiktionary)