noun, often attributive
\ ˈthȯrn How to pronounce thorn (audio) \

Definition of thorn

1a : a sharp rigid process on a plant especially : one that is a short, indurated, sharp-pointed, and leafless modified stem — compare prickle, spine
b : any of various sharp spinose structures on an animal
2 : a woody plant bearing sharp impeding processes (such as prickles or spines) especially : hawthorn
3 : something that causes distress or irritation often used in the phrase thorn in one's side
4 : the runic letter þ used in Old English and Middle English to represent either of the fricatives \th\ or \t͟h\ and in Icelandic to represent \th\

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Other Words from thorn

thorned \ ˈthȯrnd How to pronounce thorn (audio) \ adjective
thornless \ ˈthȯrn-​ləs How to pronounce thorn (audio) \ adjective
thornlike \ ˈthȯrn-​ˌlīk How to pronounce thorn (audio) \ adjective

Examples of thorn in a Sentence

your constant questions are a thorn in my side
Recent Examples on the Web McCain was, of course, a thorn in former President Donald Trump's side and didn't always vote in-line with his party. Harry Enten, CNN, 3 Oct. 2021 Ruidiaz has been the thorn in the Timbers’ side, before Sunday scoring 10 goals in 10 all-time meetings with the Timbers, plus two assists. Caitlin Murray, oregonlive, 29 Aug. 2021 Back at the safari lodge, Mwadilo has introduced us to a man who was once a thorn in his side. Scott Mclean, CNN, 15 Sep. 2021 Another longtime thorn in the side of legal cannabis business owners is the section of the federal tax code, known as 280e, that essentially prohibits pot enterprises from deducting any expenses from their gross earnings. oregonlive, 1 Apr. 2021 Through four coaching staffs, the Dolphins have been a thorn in Bill Belichick’s side. Steve Svekis,, 12 Sep. 2021 The Firebirds were a thorn in the side of Princeton sophomore quarterback TJ Engleman who had been running wild on teams. Scott Springer, The Enquirer, 11 Sep. 2021 Persistently low interest rates have been a thorn in the side of the world’s top central banks for a number of years. Michael S. Derby, WSJ, 27 Aug. 2021 Chris Klieman’s Wildcats have been a thorn in the side of Lincoln Riley’s Sooners, Klieman now 2-0 against OU since taking over for K-State legend Bill Snyder. R.j. Coyle, Dallas News, 25 Aug. 2021

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

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for thorn

Middle English, from Old English; akin to Old High German dorn thorn, Sanskrit tṛṇa grass, blade of grass

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Time Traveler for thorn

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near thorn

thorium series


thorn apple

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Statistics for thorn

Last Updated

10 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Thorn.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for thorn


\ ˈthȯrn How to pronounce thorn (audio) \

Kids Definition of thorn

1 : a hard sharp leafless point on the stem or branch of a plant (as a rose bush)
2 : a bush or tree that has thorns

More from Merriam-Webster on thorn

Nglish: Translation of thorn for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of thorn for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about thorn


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