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[thawrn] /θɔrn/
a sharp excrescence on a plant, especially a sharp-pointed aborted branch; spine; prickle.
any of various thorny shrubs or trees, especially the hawthorns belonging to the genus Crataegus, of the rose family.
the wood of any of these trees.
a runic character (þ), borrowed into the Latin alphabet and representing the initial th sounds in thin and they in Old English, or thin in modern Icelandic.
something that wounds, annoys, or causes discomfort.
verb (used with object)
to prick with a thorn; vex.
thorn in one's side / flesh, a source of continual irritation or suffering:
That child is a thorn in the teacher's side.
Origin of thorn
before 900; Middle English (noun), Old English; cognate with Dutch doorn, German Dorn, Old Norse thorn, Gothic thaurnus
Related forms
thornless, adjective
thornlike, adjective
unthorn, verb (used with object) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for thorned
Historical Examples
  • Flowers had seemed to be had for the picking; now they were all thorned and prickled.

  • In these we always find that the thorned holly is spoken of as male, and the Ivy as female.

  • They had struggled through a thick undergrowth of thorned bushes where the great arms of the firs shut out everything ahead.

  • Thus Benjamin thorned his companions with arguments against the prevailing habit of beer-drinking.

    The Printer Boy. William M. Thayer
  • They soon found a trail and trotted their horses, horses and men swaying to avoid lianas and thorned branches.

    When the Owl Cries Paul Bartlett
  • Swinging down by his legs and one hand, he thrust the thorned branch of acacia deep in under the ruff.

    In the Morning of Time Charles G. D. Roberts
  • He made good time, as here the going was little obstructed by creepers or thorned "wait-a-minute."

    Terry Charles Goff Thomson
  • Here we have few or no briers or thorned things, save and except an odd blackberry or raspberry bush.

    The Dog Dinks, Mayhew, and Hutchinson
British Dictionary definitions for thorned


a sharp pointed woody extension of a stem or leaf Compare prickle (sense 1)
  1. any of various trees or shrubs having thorns, esp the hawthorn
  2. the wood of any of these plants
short for thorn moth
a Germanic character of runic origin Þ used in Old and Modern Icelandic to represent the voiceless dental fricative sound of th, as in thin, bath. Its use in phonetics for the same purpose is now obsolete See theta
this same character as used in Old and Middle English as an alternative to edh, but indistinguishable from it in function or sound Compare edh
(zoology) any of various sharp spiny parts
a source of irritation (esp in the phrases a thorn in one's side or flesh)
Derived Forms
thornless, adjective
Word Origin
Old English; related to Old High German dorn, Old Norse thorn


the German name for Toruń
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for thorned



Old English þorn "sharp point on a stem or branch," earlier "thorny tree or plant," from Proto-Germanic *thurnuz (cf. Old Saxon thorn, Dutch doorn, Old High German dorn, German Dorn, Old Norse þorn, Gothic þaurnus), from PIE *trnus (cf. Old Church Slavonic trunu "thorn," Sanskrit trnam "blade of grass," Greek ternax "stalk of the cactus," Irish trainin "blade of grass"), from *(s)ter-n- "thorny plant," from root *ster- "stiff."

Figurative sense of "anything which causes pain" is recorded from early 13c. (thorn in the flesh is from II Cor. xii:7). Also an Anglo-Saxon and Icelandic runic letter (þ), named for the word of which it was the initial.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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thorned in Science
A short, hard, pointed part of a stem or branch of a woody plant. Compare spine.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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thorned in the Bible

(1.) Heb. hedek (Prov. 15:19), rendered "brier" in Micah 7:4. Some thorny plant, of the Solanum family, suitable for hedges. This is probably the so-called "apple of Sodom," which grows very abundantly in the Jordan valley. "It is a shrubby plant, from 3 to 5 feet high, with very branching stems, thickly clad with spines, like those of the English brier, with leaves very large and woolly on the under side, and thorny on the midriff." (2.) Heb. kotz (Gen. 3:18; Hos. 10:8), rendered _akantha_ by the LXX. In the New Testament this word _akantha_ is also rendered "thorns" (Matt. 7:16; 13:7; Heb. 6:8). The word seems to denote any thorny or prickly plant (Jer. 12:13). It has been identified with the Ononis spinosa by some. (3.) Heb. na'atzutz (Isa. 7:19; 55:13). This word has been interpreted as denoting the Zizyphus spina Christi, or the jujube-tree. It is supposed by some that the crown of thorns placed in wanton cruelty by the Roman soldiers on our Saviour's brow before his crucifixion was plaited of branches of this tree. It overruns a great part of the Jordan valley. It is sometimes called the lotus-tree. "The thorns are long and sharp and recurved, and often create a festering wound." It often grows to a great size. (See CROWN OF THORNS.) (4.) Heb. atad (Ps. 58:9) is rendered in the LXX. and Vulgate by Rhamnus, or Lycium Europoeum, a thorny shrub, which is common all over Palestine. From its resemblance to the box it is frequently called the box-thorn.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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