haw·​thorn | \ ˈhȯ-ˌthȯrn How to pronounce hawthorn (audio) \

Definition of hawthorn

: 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

hawthorn: 1 leaves and flowers, 2 fruits

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 Plants like roses, Indian hawthorn, camellias, palms, sagos seldom suffer damage during cold. Joe Mario Pedersen, orlandosentinel.com, 28 Jan. 2022 Most Indian hawthorn leaf spots are commonly caused by the entomosporium fungus. Tom Maccubbin, orlandosentinel.com, 6 Nov. 2021 Many aquatic plants, such as water hawthorn, are potted in submerged containers to prevent roots from spreading. Karen Bruno, WSJ, 23 June 2021 Thousands of cicadas gathered on one hawthorn tree, turning its trunk into a pointillist painting humming with life. Morgan Greene, chicagotribune.com, 17 June 2021 Most major trees around North Texas made it through the cold snap fairly well (with some exceptions), but many shrubs are toast — Indian hawthorn, pittosporum, Japanese and wax ligustrum, Chinese fringe flower and agaves are pretty much wiped out. Howard Garrett, Dallas News, 29 Mar. 2021 Indian hawthorn, flowering quince, wisteria, mountain laurel and other woody perennials will probably come through the cold snap unfazed, although some of the higher branches may be dead. Richard A. Marini, San Antonio Express-News, 23 Feb. 2021 Australian exporters might substitute 'Chinese hawthorn' for 'blackberry,' for instance, or opt for 'lychees' over 'cherries' when describing a wine’s bouquet. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, 7 Dec. 2020 The three plants Bautista-Carolina uses most often in heart medicines are rose, violet and hawthorn. Malia Wollan, New York Times, 25 Aug. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hawthorn.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of hawthorn

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hawthorn

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.

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

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Cite this Entry

“Hawthorn.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hawthorn. Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for hawthorn


haw·​thorn | \ ˈhȯ-ˌthȯrn How to pronounce hawthorn (audio) \

Kids Definition of hawthorn

: a thorny shrub or small tree with shiny leaves, white, pink, or red flowers, and small red fruits

More from Merriam-Webster on hawthorn

Nglish: Translation of hawthorn for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hawthorn


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