this·​tle | \ ˈthi-səl How to pronounce thistle (audio) \

Definition of thistle

: any of various prickly composite plants (especially genera Carduus, Cirsium, and Onopordum) with often showy heads of mostly tubular flowers also : any of various other prickly plants

Illustration of thistle

Illustration of thistle

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Other Words from thistle

thistly \ ˈthi-​s(ə-​)lē How to pronounce thistly (audio) \ adjective

Examples of thistle in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The thistle caterpillars have been hatching in unusual droves across Iowa soybean fields. USA TODAY, "Leaping frogs, spiny lobsters, hostile roosters: News from around our 50 states," 26 July 2019 For the blues of her dress: viburnum berries and the thistle-like Eryngium. Lindsey Taylor, WSJ, "A Post-Holiday Bouquet Based on a Pretty, Pooped-Out Reveler," 24 Jan. 2019 Blessed thistle, for instance, is a plant that was originally native to the Mediterranean and was used by monks in the Middle Ages to relieve digestion; its leaves are now sometimes recommended to nursing mothers in tea or capsule form. E.j. Dickson, Vox, "Inside the mommy-friendly, scientifically sketchy world of breastfeeding supplements," 20 Dec. 2018 Delicate, pale blue larkspur and a deeper hit of blue thistle mimic the airy pattern in the armchair’s fabric, and the foliage of wax flower became the piercing green of the cat’s eyes. Lindsey Taylor, WSJ, "A Winter Bouquet, Black Cat Included," 20 Dec. 2018 Eugenie's gorgeous wedding bouquet included not only the traditional spring of myrtle, but also Lily of the Valley, Stephanotis pips, baby blue thistles, white spray roses, and trailing ivy. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Princess Eugenie's Bridal Bouquet Included a Sweet Tribute to Her Kensington Palace Home, Ivy Cottage," 12 Oct. 2018 Arranged in a teardrop shape, the arrangement included lily of the valley, stephanotis pips, baby blue thistles, white spray roses and trailing ivy. Tamara Abraham, Harper's BAZAAR, "Princess Eugenie's Wedding Flowers are a Celebration of Fall," 12 Oct. 2018 The links represent a single thistle and four interlinked sprigs of rue, and a pendant portraying St. Andrew carrying the cross of his martyrdom hangs down the center, according to the royal family. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince William's Super Ornate Outfit in Scotland Is Full of Royal Symbolism," 6 July 2018 The star on the cloaks includes a saltire, which resembles St. Andrew's cross, and a medallion featuring a bejeweled thistle. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince William's Super Ornate Outfit in Scotland Is Full of Royal Symbolism," 6 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'thistle.' 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 thistle

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for thistle

Middle English thistel, from Old English; akin to Old High German distill thistle

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Statistics for thistle

Last Updated

29 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for thistle

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

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More Definitions for thistle



English Language Learners Definition of thistle

: a wild plant that has sharp points on its leaves and purple, yellow, or white flowers


this·​tle | \ ˈthi-səl How to pronounce thistle (audio) \

Kids Definition of thistle

: a prickly plant that has usually purplish often showy heads of flowers

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More from Merriam-Webster on thistle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with thistle

Spanish Central: Translation of thistle

Nglish: Translation of thistle for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about thistle

Comments on thistle

What made you want to look up thistle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to shake or wave menacingly

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