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

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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 Hedges, mostly hawthorn and blackthorn, are a distinctive feature of the British countryside. Sam Knight, The New Yorker, "Can Farming Make Space for Nature?," 10 Feb. 2020 This bacterial disease afflicts only apple, pear, and hawthorn trees, and pyracantha and cotoneaster shrubs. Margaret Lauterbach, idahostatesman, "Cool, rainy spring prompts alert for fire blight on Valley trees, plants | Idaho Statesman," 26 Apr. 2018 Here, hawthorn takes over natural areas like prairies and savannas, shading out native plants. oregonlive, "Ask an expert: Can I chip our dying red alder tree that has a bacterial infection?," 27 Oct. 2019 Thorny scrub — hawthorn, blackthorn, dog rose and bramble — punched through fields that, only a few years earlier, were maize and barley as far as the eye could see. Isabella Tree, Time, "How to Return a Farm to the Wild—And Maybe Save the Planet," 3 Oct. 2019 And to make matters worse, Indian hawthorns, their closely related cousins, are now being ravaged by the very same disease. Neil Sperry, ExpressNews.com, "Mexican petunia: beautiful and determined to spread," 13 Sep. 2019 Sometime within the past 170 years, populations of Rhagoletis pomonella jumped from infecting the fruits of native hawthorn trees in North America to infecting apple trees introduced by European colonists, a move that formed an incipient species. Quanta Magazine, "New Hybrid Species Remix Old Genes Creatively," 10 Sep. 2019 Plants with broadleaves like ligustrum, Indian hawthorn, loropetalum and azaleas can be trimmed back to bare stems, but if a few leaves are left, the recovery is often faster. Tom Maccubbin, orlandosentinel.com, "Cut stems to increase number of crape myrtle flower heads," 20 July 2019 Evergreens generally are used for topiary, but occasionally a deciduous plant such as English hawthorn or European beech is used. Washington Post, "Topiary tips: When you want shrubs to double as sculpture," 30 July 2019

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.

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First Known Use of hawthorn

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hawthorn

Middle English hawethorn, from Old English hagathorn, from haga hawthorn + thorn — more at hedge

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Time Traveler for hawthorn

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

17 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hawthorn.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hawthorn. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for hawthorn


How to pronounce hawthorn (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of hawthorn

: a type of bush or small tree with white or pink flowers and small red fruits


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

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More from Merriam-Webster on hawthorn

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hawthorn

Spanish Central: Translation of hawthorn

Nglish: Translation of hawthorn for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hawthorn

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