Definition of thyrsus in English:


nounPlural thyrsi

  • (in ancient Greece and Rome) a staff or spear tipped with an ornament like a pine cone, carried by Bacchus and his followers.

    • ‘His symbols are the phallus, the thyrsus, and the bull.’
    • ‘A thyrsus (thyrsos) was a sacred implement at religious rituals and festivals.’
    • ‘Primrose is a very leafy shrub, producing small, yellowish thyrsi.’
    • ‘He is dressed a maenad, with a long linen dress covered by a fawnskin, a thyrsus in his hand, a long blond wing bound with a ribbon on his head.’
    • ‘Frenzied with wine they rushed through woods and over mountains uttering sharp cries, waving pine-cone-tipped wands (thyrsi).’
    • ‘The fabulous history of Bacchus relates that he converted the thyrsi carried by himself and his followers into dangerous weapons, by concealing an iron point in the head of leaves.’


Latin, from Greek thursos ‘plant stalk, Bacchic staff’.