\ 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 Though thorny issues like Brexit and the future of Northern Ireland shadowed the meeting, Biden and Johnson began their sit-down by immediately striking a tone of conviviality as the news media watched. Jonathan Lemire, Anchorage Daily News, 10 June 2021 The first thorny question that arises in the face of a ransomware attack is whether to pay the ransom. Steve Durbin, Forbes, 1 June 2021 Officials from around the globe begin three weeks of grueling climate talks Monday that will involve grappling with a number of thorny political issues without the benefit of face-to-face meetings, due to pandemic restrictions. Frank Jordans, Star Tribune, 31 May 2021 There’s also the thorny question of emerging variants of the virus, and how effective the vaccines approved in the US will ultimately be against them., 7 May 2021 Now that the cleanup of the waterway has begun, a thorny question emerges. New York Times, 9 Apr. 2021 But watchdog groups have raised concerns about privacy and the particularly thorny question of collecting data on children. Ellen Gamerman, WSJ, 24 Mar. 2021 How players whose teams advance deeply in the playoffs will be able to take part in the Olympics, too, is a thorny, unresolved question. Andrew Greif, Los Angeles Times, 7 Mar. 2021 Prior to the pandemic, brands could often choose to stay clear of thorny issues, but by March 2020, that was no longer the case. Greg Garunov, Forbes, 19 May 2021

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for thorny

Last Updated

16 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Thorny.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for thorny



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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