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 the offense produced last season, especially in the running game, Smith acknowledged that the defense was a thorn. Shannon Ryan,, "Is it bowl or bust for Lovie Smith in his 4th season at Illinois? ‘This is what we’ve been building for’," 18 July 2019 The biggest thorn was one amendment that said day cares could use the alarms, or follow a DCF checklist after each and every stop in a vehicle — making the alarm an option instead of a requirement. Andrew Boryga,, "Children keep dying in hot cars as Florida legislators fail to act," 5 Aug. 2019 But there have been thorns among the roses, some with roots in his native land. Bob Hohler,, "Long before the shooting, Big Papi had brushes with people who ‘want something from me’," 20 July 2019 One of the few natural predators of live lubbers is the shrike, a small bird that can decapitate the grasshoppers with its beak or impale them on thorns or barbed-wire fences. Adriana Brasileiro,, "Monster grasshoppers swarm Everglades," 19 July 2019 In Baton Rouge, the quarterback position has long been viewed as the thorn in the side of a program that appears to have everything else for a return to championship glory. Ross Dellenger,, "Meet Joe Burrow: LSU's Toughest Renaissance Man and Maybe Savior at QB," 15 July 2019 The thorns of JoJo Fletcher’s After the Final Rose might’ve been sharpest for her ex, Ben Higgins, and his fiancée, Lauren Bushnell. Georgia Slater, USA TODAY, "'Bachelor' alum Lauren Bushnell and country singer Chris Lane are engaged," 18 June 2019 Our third flat came just before the national park, where the perils turned out to be kiawe thorns, not lava bombs. James Sturz, WSJ, "Hawaii’s Big Island By Bike: A Heart-Racing, Spectacularly Scenic Trip," 12 Feb. 2019 As the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which continues to investigate Russia’s attack on the 2016 election, Mr Warner is a thorn in the president’s side. J.s. | Richmond, The Economist, "Senator Mark Warner of Virginia appears to be heading for a third term," 1 Aug. 2019

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

18 Sep 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

Comments on thorn

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miscellaneous remnants or debris

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