Any of various rodents of the family Hystricidae, of Eurasia and Africa, or the family Erethizontidae, of the Americas, having long, sharp, erectile quills.
[Middle English porke despine, from Old French porc espin, ultimately (perhaps via Old Italian porcospino) from Vulgar Latin *porcospīnus : Latin porcus, pig; see porko- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots + Latin spīna, thorn, spine (probably translation of Late Greek akanthokhoiros, hedgehog : Greek akantha, thorn + Greek khoiros, pig).]
(click for a larger image)porcupine
North American porcupine
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
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