thorny

adjective
\ 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

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

What Garber uncovered speaks to a thorny issue: Recalls don’t always work as intended. Stephie Grob Plante, Vox, "The Rock ’n Play was recalled after it was linked to 32 infant deaths. It’s still used at some daycares.," 8 Aug. 2019 Health care has long been a thorny issue for candidates of both parties. Jess Bidgood, BostonGlobe.com, "Health care unified Democrats in 2018. Now it’s dividing them," 18 July 2019 The show shines a light on—perhaps even offers a platform for—thorny issues about emotional prejudice in wider society. David Geiringer, Quartzy, "“Shallow, inauthentic” Love Island contains a surprising amount of truth about love," 25 July 2019 Credibility, of course, can be a thorny issue, mostly because human memory is far from perfect. Matt Blitz, Popular Mechanics, "I Found Bigfoot...Maybe," 17 July 2019 So far, however, American regulators and lawmakers have mostly dithered over how to tackle the thorny issues surrounding the emergence of cryptocurrencies, like protecting consumers and keeping out criminals. John Harney, Fortune, "‘Little Standing or Dependability:’ Trump Lashes Out at Facebook’s Libra Cryptocurrency," 12 July 2019 Again, Williams hopes to tackle a thorny if somewhat uncharted topic in her Showtime series. Mary H.k. Choi, The Cut, "Jessica Williams Is Ready to Claim What’s Hers," 4 June 2018 The case is the focus of a HBO documentary debuting on Tuesday that explores the thorny legal questions, the teen’s twisted relationship and Carter’s own mental health problems. Washington Post, "US high court urged to take up texting suicide appeal," 9 July 2019 In an action that could place 10 potentially lucrative patent applications from UC Berkeley in jeopardy, the U.S. patent office has reopened the thorny question of who invented a key CRISPR gene editing technology first. Michael Hiltzik, latimes.com, "In possible blow to UC, patent office revisits conflict over CRISPR invention," 27 June 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.

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

11 Aug 2019

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 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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on thorny

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with thorny

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).

WORD OF THE DAY

marked by turns or indirection

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

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!