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

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 The policy has been clearly been a thorn in the side of Apple, a trillion-dollar company. Xavier Harding, Fortune, "Apple Has a Million Dollar Bug Problem—And It’s Only Paying Thousands to Squash Them," 31 July 2019 The outspoken Islamist cleric has been a thorn in the side of the ruling al-Saud family for decades. Saphora Smith, NBC News, "Saudi cleric Salman al-Awda who called for reform could be sentenced to death," 26 July 2019 Yasiel Puig has been a thorn in the Brewers’ side in this series and that continued Wednesday. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Reds 3, Brewers 0: Offense has no answers for Sonny Gray, who dominates for eight innings," 3 July 2019 Only the Washington Post, long a thorn in Trump’s side, was named by the paper. Heather Timmons, Quartz, "Homeland Security chief’s future uncertain after a right-wing media assault," 26 June 2019 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

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

7 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

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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a period when something is suspended

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