Definition of Thorn in English:


proper noun

Definition of thorn in English:



  • 1A stiff, sharp-pointed, straight or curved woody projection on the stem or other part of a plant.

    and → thornproof
    • ‘Roses ramble over walls, branches stiff with thorns and laden with huge blossoms.’
    • ‘Her finger caught on one of the thorns hidden beneath a leaf.’
    • ‘Experts have known for some time that cheetahs are particularly prone to eye injuries from thorns and spikes.’
    • ‘Sweating on an assembly line, she strips thorns from flowers bound for countries where people can afford such luxuries.’
    • ‘I could easily compare her to a rose: a beautiful flower with piercing thorns.’
    • ‘The rural imagery is varied: the rising sap, meadows, individual plants, birds, a bedewed rose among its thorns, storm, flood, and fair weather.’
    • ‘Workers spray rose bushes, harvest stems, strip them of thorns and pluck the blemished petals.’
    • ‘Here in south Texas, where the mesquite brush and most other native plants have thorns and where not a few critters have a mean bite, it helps to be tough.’
    • ‘The door was engraved with carvings of dead and live roses with long stems and sharp thorns.’
    • ‘But I'm so inherently Texan I love it all - the stickers, the spikes, the thorns, the burrs, the nettles, and the rocks.’
    • ‘It is very difficult to miss this flower with its very vibrant orange leaves and dangerous thorns.’
    • ‘The Romans considered holly to be lucky, and it was later accepted as a symbol by the church - its sharp leaves likened to the thorns worn by Jesus and its berries to the drops of Christ's blood.’
    • ‘The thorns on the rose stem pressed into his skin but he ignored the pain.’
    • ‘The untrained eye cannot always distinguish between a blackberry and a raspberry, since the shapes and sizes of the fruit, leaves, and thorns vary, and there are both red blackberries and black raspberries.’
    • ‘Plants also possess a great diversity of physical resistance traits, such as spines and thorns.’
    • ‘Nearly all of the plant life protects itself with thorns, barbs and needles.’
    • ‘Having bare feet also made it easier to grip when following a ridge and, since there was not the faintest trace of vegetation anywhere, there was no danger from thorns.’
    • ‘Due to the proposed similarity in function among thorns, spines, and prickles, we will hereafter generically refer to all plants bearing them as armed.’
    • ‘Certain plants have developed thorns to prevent themselves from being devoured and they work equally well as deterrents for humans too.’
    • ‘I just keep staring at the rose, the petals, the long yellow stamens, stem, the fat red thorns, wanting to say so much.’
    prickle, spike, barb, spine, bristle
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A source of discomfort, annoyance, or difficulty; an irritation or an obstacle.
      ‘the issue has become a thorn in renewing the peace talks’
      • ‘His visits to the shrine have been a thorn that is increasingly irritating relations between the two countries.’
      • ‘Why do our love lives have to be a winding road full of obstacles and thorns?’
      • ‘A friend and I were sitting around commiserating about the things that get to us: unloading small indignities, comparing thorns.’
      • ‘However, that thorn has yet to trouble the organisers, who are revitalising and expanding the event.’
      • ‘Jake is a big thorn in this school.’
  • 2A thorny bush, shrub, or tree, especially a hawthorn.

    • ‘Slowly we progress across the crimson lakes of sand, silver pools of sand, enormous hillocks of sand, skirting giant rocks and stubbornly vibrant patches of thorn bush.’
    • ‘With the sun at its highest and the birds falling silent, I had a short siesta under a thorn tree.’
    • ‘Huge clusters of thorn bushes, fungus, tree roots and a carpet of dead leaves and pine needles made walking a chore.’
    • ‘The camels seem to enjoy bunches of dry-looking thorn bush.’
    • ‘She could see a forest surrounding the town, dense and thick, full of dark, tangled trees and thorns that looked scary and uninviting.’
    • ‘I wish to draw everybody's attention to the great value of all established indigenous trees and of camel thorn trees in particular.’
    • ‘Pretty soon I sat up with a jerk as something was thrashing like mad in the thorn bush above my head.’
    • ‘To this day, a large and twisted thorn tree - the ‘Friar's Thorn’ - grows on the mound where the ceremonies were carried out and it is near here that the ‘Friar's Stone’ is located.’
    • ‘Instead of a well-equipped school their children are taught beneath the shade of a thorn tree.’
    • ‘I sit beside my flowering thorn and drink a little wine.’
    • ‘The lions chased him, and savaged his leg before he fell into a thorn bush too dense for them to reach him.’
    • ‘‘They threw me over the back of a camel and told me they would kill me if I cried,’ he said, sitting quietly under a thorn tree on the outskirts of Turalei.’
    • ‘Point out any potential hazards to the child, such as thorn bushes or poison ivy.’
    • ‘Along the banks grew knob thorns, sausage trees, vegetable ivory, ilala palms, mangoes, wild figs, tamarinds and mahogany, as well as the ubiquitous acacia.’
    • ‘In the autumn we intend to plant fruiting species of trees, including gelda rose, hawthorn, hazel, thorn and snowberry.’
    • ‘When he reached Glastonbury he planted his staff, which then took root and grew into a thorn tree.’
    • ‘The undergrowth of thorns and shrubs was bad enough, but in addition the whole place was chock-full of a sort of reed with long leaves about an inch or so broad.’
  • 3An Old English and Icelandic runic letter, Þ or þ, representing the dental fricatives /T͟H/ and /TH/ . In English it was eventually superseded by the digraph th.

    Compare with eth
    • ‘Similarly, thorn may represent either a voiceless or a voiced sound: compare the current use of the digraph th in three and these.’


Old English, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch doorn and German Dorn.