haw·​thorn ˈhȯ-ˌthȯrn How to pronounce hawthorn (audio)
: any of a genus (Crataegus) of spring-flowering spiny shrubs or small trees of the rose family with glossy and often lobed leaves, white or pink fragrant flowers, and small red fruits

Illustration of hawthorn

Illustration of hawthorn
  • 1 leaves and flowers
  • 2 fruits

Did you know?

Hawthorn Has Old English Roots

A hawthorn is a thorny shrub or tree which can be planted into a hedge, and this fact provides a hint about the origins of the plant's name. The word hawthorn traces back to the Old English word hagathorn, a combination of "haga" ("hedge") and "thorn" (same meaning as the modern "thorn" or "thornbush"). "Haga" was also used in Old English for the hawthorn itself, but by the 12th century the "thorn" had been added to its name.

Examples of hawthorn in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This was also a thoughtful nod to her father-in-law’s love of nature, gardening, and horticulture, and reflected the motif, used throughout the coronation, of the Green Man—an ancient figure from British folklore, who wears a crown made of emblematic flowers and oak, ivy, and hawthorn. Emma Spedding, Vogue, 22 Dec. 2023 Dingle uses, amongst other botanicals, rowan berry from the mountain ash trees, fuchsia, bog myrtle, hawthorn and heather for a taste of the Irish landscape. Claudia Alarcón, Forbes, 30 Nov. 2023 The hawthorn tree outside reveals the answer to the riddle from the winter before: the flowers are red. Yiyun Li, The New Yorker, 23 Oct. 2023 Black walnut, hawthorn or barberry make for a prickly, foreboding atmosphere. Karen Hugg, Washington Post, 13 Oct. 2023 Woodcock can also be found mixed in with ruffed grouse in aspen stands and thickets of dogwood and hawthorn. Matthew Every, Field & Stream, 18 Oct. 2023 Triterpenoids are also a group of compounds found in hawthorn berries that have been shown to affect cardiovascular health positively. Discover Magazine, 30 June 2023 Washington hawthorn is also very tolerant of most soils, even clay. Southern Living Editors, Southern Living, 21 July 2023 Natural Ingredients Every blood pressure supplement on our list uses natural ingredients like niacin, vitamin K2, Ashwagandha, hawthorn berry, garlic, amino acids, etc. Discover Magazine, 30 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hawthorn.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English haȝþorne, hawethorn, going back to Old English haguþorn, hægþorn, going back to Germanic *hagaþurna- (whence also Old High German hagandorn "hawthorn," Old Icelandic hagþorn), from *haga- "fenced enclosure, hedge" + *þurna- thorn — more at haw entry 1

Note: Hawthorn, "thorn of the hedge," is a metonymic name for what was apparently a characteristic plant of hedges in the early Germanic world.

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of hawthorn was before the 12th century


Dictionary Entries Near hawthorn

Cite this Entry

“Hawthorn.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hawthorn. Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


haw·​thorn ˈhȯ-ˌthȯ(ə)rn How to pronounce hawthorn (audio)
: any of a genus of thorny shrubs or small trees that are related to the roses and have glossy leaves, white or pink fragrant flowers that bloom in the spring, and small red fruits

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