\ ˈthȯr-nē How to pronounce thorny (audio) \
thornier; thorniest

Definition of thorny

1 : full of thorns
2 : full of difficulties or controversial points : ticklish a thorny problem

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Other Words from thorny

thorniness noun

Examples of thorny in a Sentence

stay out of the thorny brambles unless you want a ton of scratches
Recent Examples on the Web Sangiovese), Syrah and Grenache, the wine smells like roses, thorny berry bushes and grapefruit peel. Esther Mobley,, "Why this wine critic is not doing Dry January," 9 Jan. 2020 The order has placed Republican governors in a thorny spot between immigration critics who want to stem new arrivals to the country and evangelical Christians who welcome and support refugees as an extension of their faith. Jackie Borchardt,, "Gov. Mike DeWine to Trump administration: Ohio will continue accepting refugees," 30 Dec. 2019 The thorniest questions arise for patients who are on high doses, continue to struggle with pain and an overall poor quality of life, but do not wish to taper. Claudia Wallis, Scientific American, "How to Break the Bonds of Opioids," 20 Dec. 2019 Some see the postponement or roll-back of tariffs as hurting US leverage for second and third phase discussions when even thornier issues, such as industrial subsidies, are likely to be tackled. Mary E. Lovely For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, "A trade war ceasefire is just what America's economy needs," 13 Dec. 2019 Mark Rumold, a senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says the issue of public records in the digital age is a thorny one. Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY, "Your data has been sold to websites like MyLife and WhitePages, how to remove it," 10 Dec. 2019 Along the property’s stretch of the Middle River, thickets of false indigo tower overhead, their lower leaves wrapped in the thorny, protective embrace of blackberry shrubs. Carrie Arnold, National Geographic, "Veterinary drugs are wreaking havoc on wildlife worldwide," 6 Dec. 2019 Nevertheless, the clash comes at a sensitive time and could upset already thorny trade negotiations between the two nations. Yanan Wang, The Denver Post, "China furious, Hong Kong celebrates after U.S. move on bills," 28 Nov. 2019 Here is a timeline of the thorny dispute, which shook the foundations of secular India, like no other event in living memory: 1528-29: A mosque is built in Ayodhya by Mir Baqi, a general of the first Mughal emperor Babur. Sangeeta Tanwar, Quartz India, "A timeline of a land dispute that has ripped India’s heart apart over seven decades," 9 Nov. 2019

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

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for thorny

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

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Last Updated

13 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Thorny.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for thorny


How to pronounce thorny (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of thorny

: having a lot of thorns
: very difficult or complicated


\ ˈthȯr-nē How to pronounce thorny (audio) \
thornier; thorniest

Kids Definition of thorny

1 : full of or covered with thorns
2 : full of difficulties a thorny situation

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More from Merriam-Webster on thorny

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for thorny

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with thorny

Spanish Central: Translation of thorny

Nglish: Translation of thorny for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of thorny for Arabic Speakers

Comments on thorny

What made you want to look up thorny? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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