often attributive
: a sharp rigid process on a plant
especially : one that is a short, indurated, sharp-pointed, and leafless modified stem compare prickle, spine
: any of various sharp spinose structures on an animal
: a woody plant bearing sharp impeding processes (such as prickles or spines)
especially : hawthorn
: something that causes distress or irritation
often used in the phrase thorn in one's side
: 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\
thorned adjective
thornless adjective
thornlike adjective

Examples of thorn in a Sentence

your constant questions are a thorn in my side
Recent Examples on the Web The most showstopping aspect of her ensemble, however, was her sculptural headpiece, whose thorns gave shape to a sheer veil that covered her upper body and face. Anna Tingley, Variety, 7 May 2024 Weirdest Head Gear Lana Del Rey, wearing an Alexander McQueen gown, was topped by a thorn of crowns or Spanish mantilla — or maybe both. Merle Ginsberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 6 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for thorn 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'thorn.' 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, from Old English; akin to Old High German dorn thorn, Sanskrit tṛṇa grass, blade of grass

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near thorn

Cite this Entry

“Thorn.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thorn. Accessed 19 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a woody plant bearing sharp processes (as prickles or spines)
especially : hawthorn
: a sharp stiff process on a plant
especially : a stem modified into a short, stiff, and leafless sharp point
: something or someone that causes distress or irritation
often used in the phrase thorn in one's side
thorned adjective
thornless adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on thorn

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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