Main meanings of thorn in English

: thorn1Thorn2


Pronunciation /θɔːn/

See synonyms for thorn

Translate thorn into Spanish


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

    ‘Roses ramble over walls, branches stiff with thorns and laden with huge blossoms.’
    • ‘Certain plants have developed thorns to prevent themselves from being devoured and they work equally well as deterrents for humans too.’
    • ‘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 thorns on the rose stem pressed into his skin but he ignored the pain.’
    • ‘The door was engraved with carvings of dead and live roses with long stems and sharp 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.’
    • ‘Nearly all of the plant life protects itself with thorns, barbs and needles.’
    • ‘It is very difficult to miss this flower with its very vibrant orange leaves and dangerous thorns.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Her finger caught on one of the thorns hidden beneath a leaf.’
    • ‘I could easily compare her to a rose: a beautiful flower with piercing thorns.’
    • ‘Sweating on an assembly line, she strips thorns from flowers bound for countries where people can afford such luxuries.’
    • ‘Workers spray rose bushes, harvest stems, strip them of thorns and pluck the blemished petals.’
    • ‘Experts have known for some time that cheetahs are particularly prone to eye injuries from thorns and spikes.’
    • ‘Plants also possess a great diversity of physical resistance traits, such as spines and thorns.’
    • ‘The rural imagery is varied: the rising sap, meadows, individual plants, birds, a bedewed rose among its thorns, storm, flood, and fair weather.’
    • ‘But I'm so inherently Texan I love it all - the stickers, the spikes, the thorns, the burrs, the nettles, and the rocks.’
    • ‘I just keep staring at the rose, the petals, the long yellow stamens, stem, the fat red thorns, wanting to say so much.’
    • ‘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.’
    prickle, spike, barb, spine, bristle
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A source of discomfort, annoyance, or difficulty; an irritation or obstacle.
      ‘the issue has become a thorn in renewing the peace talks’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘His visits to the shrine have been a thorn that is increasingly irritating relations between the two countries.’
      • ‘However, that thorn has yet to trouble the organisers, who are revitalising and expanding the event.’
      • ‘Jake is a big thorn in this school.’
  • 2

    (also thorn bush, thorn tree)
    A thorny bush, shrub, or tree, especially a hawthorn.

    ‘‘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.’
    • ‘Instead of a well-equipped school their children are taught beneath the shade of a thorn tree.’
    • ‘When he reached Glastonbury he planted his staff, which then took root and grew into a thorn tree.’
    • ‘With the sun at its highest and the birds falling silent, I had a short siesta under a thorn tree.’
    • ‘The lions chased him, and savaged his leg before he fell into a thorn bush too dense for them to reach him.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The camels seem to enjoy bunches of dry-looking thorn bush.’
    • ‘In the autumn we intend to plant fruiting species of trees, including gelda rose, hawthorn, hazel, thorn and snowberry.’
    • ‘Along the banks grew knob thorns, sausage trees, vegetable ivory, ilala palms, mangoes, wild figs, tamarinds and mahogany, as well as the ubiquitous acacia.’
    • ‘Point out any potential hazards to the child, such as thorn bushes or poison ivy.’
    • ‘I wish to draw everybody's attention to the great value of all established indigenous trees and of camel thorn trees in particular.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She could see a forest surrounding the town, dense and thick, full of dark, tangled trees and thorns that looked scary and uninviting.’
    • ‘Huge clusters of thorn bushes, fungus, tree roots and a carpet of dead leaves and pine needles made walking a chore.’
    • ‘I sit beside my flowering thorn and drink a little wine.’
  • 3An Old English and Icelandic runic letter, þ or Þ, representing the dental fricatives ð and θ. 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.’


    So named from the word of which it was the first letter.

  • 4A yellowish-brown woodland moth that rests with the wings raised over the back, with caterpillars that mimic twigs in appearance.

    Ennomos and other genera, family Geometridae


    a thorn in someone's side
    • A source of continual annoyance or trouble.

      ‘the pastor has long been a thorn in the side of the regime’
      • ‘We will continue to be a thorn in his side, keeping a close eye on him and interfering with his criminal activities.’
      • ‘A committed republican, he continued to be a thorn in Cromwell 's side, being elected to the protector's parliaments of 1654 and 1656, but prevented from taking his seat.’
      • ‘His uncompromising attitude continually made him a thorn in the Establishment 's side.’
      • ‘He's still there of course, and will no doubt continue to be a thorn in our side, but the main danger now seems to be past.’
      • ‘A feisty nuisance of a forward, he was a thorn in their side throughout.’
      • ‘I was a thorn in their side because I wouldn't go along with what they wanted to do.’
      • ‘I'm going to be a thorn in their side until they deliver the school places, until they deliver the public transport, until they deliver the parks and the playgrounds.’
      • ‘Neighbours consider him a kind person who is ready to help others, while criminals see him as a thorn in their side.’
      • ‘Has there been a government in the last thirty years which hasn't regarded the our journalists as a thorn in its side?’
      • ‘We will continue to fight, to be there as a thorn in their side.’
    there is no rose without a thorn
    • Every apparently desirable situation has its share of trouble or difficulty.

      ‘There is no rose without a thorn, but people getting all hot and bothered is not going to do Sligo any good.’
      • ‘But there is no rose without a thorn and they stand for life's difficulties and tragedies.’
      • ‘Among other things, Stenwick prides itself upon the comeliness of its damsels, but, just as there is no rose without a thorn, so there is no parish whose gallery of feminine pulchritude is utterly flawless.’


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

Main meanings of Thorn in English

: thorn1Thorn2


Pronunciation /toːɐn/

See synonyms for Thorn

Translate Thorn into Spanish

proper noun

German name for Toruń