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

Examples of thorn in a Sentence

your constant questions are a thorn in my side

Recent Examples on the Web

While Rosalía’s nails are studded with roses (in a play on her name), the members of her beauty gang’s warrior-esque manicures are decorated with thorns, and some of the extras’ nails have petals on them. Rachel Hahn, Vogue, "In Rosalía’s New Video, Gilded Rose-Adorned Nail Sculptures Take Center Stage," 31 May 2019 Comcast had reasons for holding on—not least to enjoy a stream of passive revenue and be a thorn in Disney’s side. Elizabeth Winkler, WSJ, "Hulu Deal Has a Real Hollywood Ending for Disney, Comcast," 14 May 2019 Darting clusters of weaverbirds filled the camel thorn branches above us. Stanley Stewart, Condé Nast Traveler, "Going Off-Grid in Namibia," 21 Dec. 2018 The rising violence has become a thorn in the side of departing President Enrique Peña Nieto and is widely cited as one reason why the ruling-party candidate is trailing in a distant third position just over two months before the vote. Juan Montes, WSJ, "Mexican Students Met Gruesome Fate, Prosecutors Say," 24 Apr. 2018 The show paints Palmerston, played by Laurence Fox, as the Queen's political rival, and frankly a real thorn in her side. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Who Was Queen Victoria's Foreign Secretary, Lord Palmerston?," 20 Jan. 2019 That was a thorn for the Ducks, who had to protect veteran Kevin Bieksa and expose youngsters Josh Manson and Sami Vatanen. Helene Elliott,, "The Golden Knights were supposed to be competitive, not mounting a Stanley Cup run," 29 Apr. 2018 Hopefully the extra wait means a smooth and polished launch though, as that’s been a notorious thorn with Total Wars past. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "This week in games: Hollow Knight gets a sequel, Neill Blomkamp makes a live-action Anthem trailer," 15 Feb. 2019 Meanwhile, Cruz, once the ultimate thorn in Republicans’ sides as a performative anti-establishment conservative, seems to have put his political theater to the side — and is now in need of a GOP rescue mission. Tara Golshan, Vox, "Ted Cruz’s surprisingly competitive battle against Beto O’Rourke, explained," 12 Sep. 2018

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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Statistics for thorn

Last Updated

26 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for thorn

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

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on thorn

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with thorn

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for thorn

Spanish Central: Translation of thorn

Nglish: Translation of thorn for Spanish Speakers

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

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