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Hystrix indica, an Old World porcupine
Erethizon dorsatum, a New World porcupine
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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English porke despyne, from Old French porc-espin, from Latin porcus (pig) + spinus (spine), hence also spine pig. Cognate with Spanish puercoespín, Italian porcospino, Portuguese porco-espinho.


  • IPA(key): /ˈpɔː(ɹ)kjʊˌpaɪn/
    • (file)
  • (colloquial) IPA(key): /ˈpɔː(ɹ)kiˌpaɪn/, /ˈpɔː(ɹ)kɪˌpaɪn/, /ˈpɔː(ɹ)kəˌpaɪn/


porcupine (plural porcupines)

  1. Any of several rodents of either of the taxonomic families Hystricidae (Old World porcupines) or Erethizontidae (New World porcupines), both from the infraorder Hystricognathi, noted for their sharp spines or quills, which are raised when the animal is attacked or surprised.
    • 1981, Adolph Murie, The Grizzlies of Mount McKinley, page 218:
      I have no evidence of grizzlies killing porcupines or vice versa. However, occasionally there is contact and sometimes a grizzly is injured or a porcupine killed, but the latter is rare.
    • 2010, Richard Potts, Early Hominid Activities at Olduvai, page 81:
      In particular, porcupines, hyenas, and leopards are known in Africa to transport bones to particular places.
    • 2011, John P. Rafferty, Rats, Bats, and Xenarthrans, page 113:
      Old World porcupines (Hystricidae) have quills embedded in clusters, whereas in New World porcupines (Erethizontidae) single quills are interspersed with bristles, underfur, and hair. No porcupine can throw its quills, but they detach easily and will remain embedded in an attacker.



  • (any species of Erethizontidae): porcupette (baby porcupine)

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