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

  • n. Botany A modified branch in the form of a sharp, woody spine.
  • n. Botany Any of various shrubs, trees, or woody plants bearing sharp, woody spines.
  • n. Any of various sharp, spiny protuberances; a prickle.
  • n. One that causes sharp pain, irritation, or discomfort: He is a thorn in my side.
  • n. The runic letter þ originally representing either sound of the Modern English th, as in the and thin, used in Old English and Middle English manuscripts.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A sharp protective spine of a plant.
  • n. A letter of the Latin alphabet (capital: Þ, small: þ), borrowed by Old English from the futhark to represent a dental fricative, then not distinguished from eth, but in modern use (in Icelandic and other languages, but no longer in English) used only for the voiceless dental fricative found in English thigh
  • v. To pierce with, or as if with, a thorn

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A hard and sharp-pointed projection from a woody stem; usually, a branch so transformed; a spine.
  • n. Any shrub or small tree which bears thorns; especially, any species of the genus Cratægus, as the hawthorn, whitethorn, cockspur thorn.
  • n. Fig.: That which pricks or annoys as a thorn; anything troublesome; trouble; care.
  • n. The name of the Anglo-Saxon letter �, capital form �. It was used to represent both of the sounds of English th, as in thin, then. So called because it was the initial letter of thorn, a spine.
  • transitive v. To prick, as with a thorn.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To prick or pierce with or as with a thorn.
  • To fasten with a thorn.
  • Supplied (?).
  • To be supplied (?).
  • n. A sharp excrescence on a plant: usually a branch, or the termination of a stem or branch, indurated, leafless, and attenuated to a point; a spine; a prickle. See spine, 1.
  • n. Figuratively, that which wounds or annoys; a cause of discomfort or irritation; a painful circumstance.
  • n. One of numerous thorny shrubs or trees, especially the members of the genus Cratægus, otherwise called haw.
  • n. In zoology, some sharp process, horn, or spine. See spine, 3.
  • n. In entomology, one of certain geometrid moths: an English book-name. The little thorn is Epione advenaria; the early thorn is Selenia illunaria.
  • n. In lace-making, a small pointed projection used to decorate the cordon-net, etc. Compare spine, 5.
  • n. The Anglo-Saxon letter þ, equivalent to th; also, the corresponding character in Icelandic.
  • n. In the United States, sometimes, the scarlet-fruited thorn.
  • n. See Macrocnemum.

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

  • n. a small sharp-pointed tip resembling a spike on a stem or leaf
  • n. a Germanic character of runic origin
  • n. something that causes irritation and annoyance


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

Middle English, from Old English.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English þorn and Old English þorn, from Proto-Germanic *þurnuz, from Proto-Indo-European *(s)ter-n- (“sharp stalk or thorn”), possibly derived from *ster- (“stiff”). Near cognates include German Dorn and Gothic 𐌸𐌰𐌿𐍂𐌽𐌿𐍃 (þaurnus). Further cognates include Old Church Slavonic трънъ (trŭnŭ, "thorn"), Albanian drizë ("a thorny shrub") and Sanskrit तृण (tṛṇa, "grass").


  • And do you know what that sting or thorn is in Latin?

    Sexagesima Sunday

  • Sometimes, as in any exorcism movie -- and most horror movies are that, by other names -- the alien thorn is successfully removed from the suppurating flank of the real.

    Archive 2009-08-01

  • My miraculous discovery was that by telling my husband and laughing with him about it; And then calling a dear friend and telling her and laughing with her about it; Now the thorn is drawn from my mind.

    McKenzie Method: Wiping out Painful Memories of Embarrassing Moments

  • Craig Counsell was the main thorn in Maddux's side, igniting things with a first-inning single and getting a double in the fourth inning, scoring both times. - Big Unit stakes D'backs to Game 1 win

  • Paul confirmed that the source of our suffering is Satan when he referred to his thorn in the flesh as a “messenger of Satan” 2 Cor.

    Beyond the Storm

  • He had lingered behind to pluck a thorn from the foot of a beggar child he had met on the highway, and he had not heard the Warder's words.

    The Story Girl

  • By sheer force of self-assertion we have lifted ourselves from the dust where we once crawled as worms and no women; we no longer wither on the virgin thorn – we flourish on it; and ungarnished though we be with olive-boughs, we are not ashamed when we meet with our enemies in the gate.

    Marriage as a Trade

  • The white thorn is also blooming; there is a rustic elegance about its clusters which leads one readily to admit its claims as a favorite of the poets – the form of this flower is so simple, and the colored heads of the stamens are so daintily pretty; it has been opening for several days, and many of the bushes, or trees rather, are in full flower.

    Rural Hours

  • Coroner David Masters, Mr Ridley's predecessor at Wiltshire, is described as a "thorn in the side of the MoD and government".

    BBC News - Home

  • Many human-rights activists believe the tax charges against him were trumped up to remove a long-term thorn in the side of the Communist Party.

    The Independent - Frontpage RSS Feed


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