thornier; thorniest
: full of thorns
: full of difficulties or controversial points : ticklish
a thorny problem
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 Join Our Other Game Discussions Want to be part of the conversation about New York Times Games, or maybe get some help with a particularly thorny puzzle? Sam Corbin, New York Times, 26 Nov. 2023 Freeway closure and snarled traffic pose a fresh political test for Mayor Bass The closure of a vital piece of civic infrastructure presents a new, potentially thorny challenge for Mayor Karen Bass. Laurel Rosenhall, Los Angeles Times, 16 Nov. 2023 The advent of the child-influencer economy, with its lack of regulation and thorny ethical questions about consent, is particularly fraught. Ej Dickson, Rolling Stone, 13 Nov. 2023 Debates over immigration will likely be the most thorny as Republicans seek to bolster enforcement. TIME, 20 Oct. 2023 Endeavors toward interplanetary colonization also bring up thorny ethical issues that most space optimists haven't fully grappled with. Sarah Scoles, Scientific American, 1 Oct. 2023 Before those launchers can be rooted out, there is a crucial need for even more granular intelligence to solve a thorny prob- lem. Dan Senor, Fortune, 5 Nov. 2023 Among the thorniest remaining questions is whether fuel will be allowed on the trucks. Miriam Berger, Washington Post, 19 Oct. 2023 But for me, there’s no bigger barrier than the thorny interpersonal politics of who drives where. Frank Shyong, Los Angeles Times, 1 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'thorny.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near thorny

Cite this Entry

“Thorny.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


thornier; thorniest
: full of or covered with thorns
thorny rose bushes
: full of difficulties
a thorny problem
thorniness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on thorny

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