Definition of thorny in English:



  • 1Having many thorns or thorn bushes.

    ‘tangled thorny branches’
    • ‘Ignoring the stones sticking into his knees, Jack carefully parted the thorny branches.’
    • ‘Some species use twigs from thorny plants, making the nests difficult for predators to destroy.’
    • ‘The thorny branches almost seemed to reach out and grab him with each step he took, ensnaring him in their grasp.’
    • ‘The plant itself is characterised by its long tapering sharp leaves with ribbed thorny ridges along the spine.’
    • ‘Nearly all roses are well equipped with sharp thorns, and some are very thorny.’
    • ‘The bark was extremely coarse and the branches were thorny and brittle.’
    • ‘On my trip in Namibia, I watched from a blind amid the thorny scrub brush as a leopard crept up on a meal at sunset.’
    • ‘I described how I'd had to climb up a steep and dangerous rock face to a thorny bramble bush on a narrow ledge, from where I could hear the cat meowing.’
    • ‘There's a big bush on the side of the track, something thorny - blackthorn?’
    • ‘Nests are built in cactuses or thorny vegetation or hanging from branches, and can be up to two meters long.’
    • ‘The thorny branches quickly entangled him, biting deeply into his skin.’
    • ‘Only tough grasses and thorny tangle-bushes grew out there.’
    • ‘We walked through thick thorny brushes, till we could go no further.’
    • ‘I begin my hike next to a rushing stream, picking my way through thorny bushes in search of the trail.’
    • ‘It is a land that is difficult to grow anything in, except that flora which is tough, resourceful and thorny.’
    • ‘She picked her way through the scattered broken branches and around the thorny brambles, trying to locate her friend.’
    • ‘For instance, this thorny bush was growing near the entrance to our dormitory.’
    • ‘High walls, fences, thorny hedges and bushes can all put off burglars, but make sure the front of your home is visible to passers-by’
    • ‘My garden in Arizona is filled with strange succulent plants and small thorny trees with green trunks.’
    • ‘The white blossom stands out against the black thorny branches.’
    prickly, spiky, barbed, spiny, spined, bristly, briary, sharp, pointed
    View synonyms
  • 2Causing distress, difficulty, or trouble.

    ‘a thorny problem for our team to solve’
    • ‘He addresses this thorny question in his third book on the science of belief.’
    • ‘The big question is whether or not Namibia will take the bull by the horns and address the thorny question of inheritance.’
    • ‘Difficult and thorny issues are resolved by intelligent listening.’
    • ‘Whether to hold a diversified portfolio is one of those thorny questions that never fails to get a group of investors arguing.’
    • ‘It made it harder for his sympathisers to dismiss the whole thorny question.’
    • ‘Companies today are now faced with the thorny question as to how they should spend their limited budgets.’
    • ‘Industry leaders met in Los Angeles Tuesday night for a seminar on the thorny problem of downloadable music.’
    • ‘In an effort to deal with this thorny question, I will propose a method for discerning the elements of worship.’
    • ‘But in the UK, the important and thorny question of ethics is holding up research.’
    • ‘I must confess that on this thorny question of tobacco and alcohol sponsorship, I'd be a bit of a maverick.’
    • ‘Remove context and you remove the possibility of people thinking about awkward issues or raising thorny questions.’
    • ‘As time moved on, and in the process of looking for answers to difficult questions, the thorny issue of forgiveness cropped up.’
    • ‘The problem of personal identity can be thorny and frustrating.’
    • ‘It was this thorny question which bogged down the Saturday night delegates.’
    • ‘As the technology stands today, there's also the thorny question of deformed or reject clones.’
    • ‘We ended by pondering a thorny question: When should a nation fight against aggression?’
    • ‘Yet all of these thorny questions will have to be addressed when inevitably he has a much smaller majority.’
    • ‘And there's always that thorny question of what came before the big bang?’
    • ‘Later she addressed the thorny question of American independence from the mother country.’
    • ‘He is the only scholar to date to tackle that thorny question.’
    problematic, tricky, ticklish, delicate, controversial, awkward, prickly
    View synonyms