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 But accuracy has been the thorn in the side of rapid testing, as witnessed this month when nearly 20 members of the Trump administration and campaign, including the president and first lady, became infected with the virus. NBC News, "There still aren't enough Covid-19 tests in the U.S. Will rapid tests help?," 16 Oct. 2020 Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and now a persistent political thorn in President Donald Trump’s side, ran against President Barack Obama and his then-vice president, Biden, in 2012. David Noyce, The Salt Lake Tribune, "This week in Mormon Land: Apostle clarifies conference talk; good COVID news; Mitt who?," 15 Oct. 2020 Besides China, a thorn in the two countries’ friendship is the US’s relationship with Pakistan. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "What’s at stake for India in the US presidential election?," 13 Oct. 2020 The law has proven to be a thorn in the side of gig companies. Sara Ashley O'brien, CNN, "The $185 million campaign to keep Uber and Lyft drivers as contractors in California," 8 Oct. 2020 The rule has been a thorn in the side of defendants -- including record labels and major artists -- for decades. Jem Aswad,, "Led Zeppelin win ‘Stairway to Heaven’ copyright battle as Supreme Court refuses to hear case," 5 Oct. 2020 Billy Hatcher was a thorn in the Athletics' side, going 9 for 12 in that series. Noah Trister, Star Tribune, "A look at all 16 potential World Series matchups," 5 Oct. 2020 Iowa State has been a thorn in Oklahoma’s side in recent years, beating the Sooners in 2017 and losing to them by a point in 2019. Tim Bielik, cleveland, "No. 18 Oklahoma vs. Iowa State: How to watch free live streams, TV options, live score updates, odds (10/3/20)," 3 Oct. 2020 Well, wireless signal has long been a thorn in Roku's side—many households have weak or suboptimally placed routers. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Roku’s big announcements today: A new Ultra player, soundbar, and AirPlay 2 support," 28 Sep. 2020

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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Statistics for thorn

Last Updated

21 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Thorn.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Oct. 2020.

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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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