thorny

adjective
\ˈthȯr-nē \
thornier; thorniest

Definition of thorny 

1 : full of thorns

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Recently, Wenk took on what may be the most thorny issue of all: Yellowstone’s surging visitation, up 45 percent since the turn of the century, surpassing 4 million per year. Elliott D. Woods, Outside Online, "Is the DOI Strong-Arming National Park Leaders?," 19 June 2018 Whether individual temperature records are valid is a thorny issue. Jason Samenow, Washington Post, "Two more countries may have set all-time high temperatures this week: Taiwan and United Arab Emirates," 11 July 2018 Meanwhile, Ruth and Debbie settle into the day-to-day rigors of making the show together while dealing with the thorny issues that continue to plague their friendship. Chuck Barney, Detroit Free Press, "TV highlights for the week of June 24-30," 23 June 2018 That’s a thorny issue for the Mittelstand—the thousands of small and midsize enterprises, often located in rural areas, that underpin German prosperity. Bloomberg.com, "Germany Has Thrived With Engineering. But the Future Is Digital," 12 June 2018 That could present thorny issues for the future use of AI. Matt O'brien, The Christian Science Monitor, "Humanlike Google voice makes a hair appointment. Should we be concerned?," 10 May 2018 State aid for Hartford could become a thorny issue at the Capitol. Jenna Carlesso, Courant Community, "Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin's Budget Will Face New Scrutiny From Oversight Board," 15 Apr. 2018 With a subtle comic touch, Insecure has tackled such thorny issues as workplace discrimination, the clumsiness of well-meaning whites, gentrification, and gender and class identity. Julia Ioffe, The Atlantic, "Issa Rae: ‘I Never Identified as a Nerd’," 12 Apr. 2018 Agriculture has long been one of the thorniest issues in global trade. Anchorage Daily News, "Analysis: There are ‘nuggets of truth’ to what Trump says about trade," 10 June 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of thorny

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about thorny

Statistics for thorny

Last Updated

22 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for thorny

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for thorny

thorny

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of thorny

: having a lot of thorns

: very difficult or complicated

thorny

adjective
\ˈthȯr-nē \
thornier; thorniest

Kids Definition of thorny

1 : full of or covered with thorns

2 : full of difficulties a thorny situation

Keep scrolling for more

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

required by fashion, etiquette, or custom

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!