from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of numerous often weedy plants of several genera of the composite family, including Cirsium, Carduus, and Onopordum, having prickly leaves and floral bracts.
  • noun Any of various other prickly plants, such as Russian thistle.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun One of numerous stout composite weeds, armed with spines or prickles, bearing globular or thickly cylindrical heads with purple, yellow, or white flowers and no rays, and dispersing their seed by the aid of a light globe of pappus.
  • noun The artichoke.
  • noun The wild lettuce, Lactuca Scariola, var. virosa.
  • noun Same as blessed thistle.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Bot.) Any one of several prickly composite plants, especially those of the genera Cnicus, Craduus, and Onopordon. The name is often also applied to other prickly plants.
  • noun Carduus benedictus, so named because it was formerly considered an antidote to the bite of venomous creatures.
  • noun Cnicus lanceolatus, the common large thistle of neglected pastures.
  • noun Cnicus arvensis, a native of Europe, but introduced into the United States from Canada.
  • noun Onopordon Acanthium.
  • noun the teasel.
  • noun etc. See under Globe, Melon, etc.
  • noun Atractylis gummifera, a native of the Mediterranean region. A vicid gum resin flows from the involucre.
  • noun either the cotton thistle, or the musk thistle, or the spear thistle; -- all used national emblems of Scotland.
  • noun Sonchus oleraceus.
  • noun Same as Bull thistle.
  • noun a species of Centaurea. See Centaurea.
  • noun a candelabra-shaped plant of the genus Cereus. See Cereus.
  • noun Cincus horridulus.
  • noun (Zoöl.) the American goldfinch, or yellow-bird (Spinus tristis); -- so called on account of its feeding on the seeds of thistles. See Illust. under Goldfinch.
  • noun (Zoöl.) a handsomely colored American butterfly (Vanessa cardui) whose larva feeds upon thistles; -- called also painted lady.
  • noun (Zoöl.), [Prov. Eng.] the corn bunting (Emberiza militaria).
  • noun a gold coin of England of the reign of James I., worth four shillings.
  • noun (Zoöl.), [Prov. Eng.] the goldfinch; -- so called from its fondness for thistle seeds.
  • noun a funnel having a bulging body and flaring mouth.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Any of several perennial composite plants, especially of genera Cirsium, Carduus, Cynara or Onopordum, having prickly leaves and showy flower heads with prickly bracts.
  • noun This plant seen as the national emblem of Scotland.
  • noun The Order of the Thistle, or membership thereof.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun any of numerous plants of the family Compositae and especially of the genera Carduus and Cirsium and Onopordum having prickly-edged leaves


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old English thistel; see steig- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English þistel, from Proto-Germanic *þistilaz. *þīh- from *teyg-, which is a variant of Proto-Indo-European *steyg- (“to prick”); from this same Proto-Indo-European root comes English stick. Cognates include German Distel and Icelandic þistill.


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  • It's the flower of France, you know – just as the thistle is the – '

    The Convert 1907

  • I have made the Scotch Thistle Lace Stole in "thistle-y" colors and had it with me when we toured Scotland in 07.

    Jean's Knitting Jean 2009

  • The thistle is armed with sharp prickles; the mallow is soft and woolly.

    Hymns in Prose for Children Anna Letitia 1781

  • 'but as those silly children are going to dress, I suppose I had better put on the gown which I call my thistle gown.

    Hollyhock A Spirit of Mischief L. T. Meade 1884

  • Before we parted, they gave me Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer’s “Scotch Thistle Lace Stole” pattern, some incredibly beautiful Fiesta Ballerina yarn in thistle-y colours to knit it in and enough Bristol Yarn Gallery “Buckingham” in a sort of camel-by-moonlight shade, to knit it again.

    Jean's Knitting Jean 2009

  • That's a sow thistle, which is halfway between a chicory and lettuce—it can be eaten raw or as greens, which I actually prefer.

    Modern Hunter-Gatherers Bruce Palling 2011

  • In French iconography, the thistle is the symbol of the pain of Christ and of the Virgin.

    Archive 2009-04-01 2009

  • Andy, remember, one of the herbs you put me on was milk thistle, which is very soothing and protective.

    CNN Transcript Apr 15, 2002 2002

  • For instance, in my particular case, I use milk thistle, which is silymarin, because it sort of nurtures the hepatic cells.

    CNN Transcript - Larry King Live: Andrew Weil Discusses `Eating Well' - April 5, 2000 2000

  • "Then the thistle is your flower," said clever Ileane.

    Roumanian Fairy Tales Various


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