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[thur-suh s] /ˈθɜr səs/
noun, plural thyrsi
[thur-sahy] /ˈθɜr saɪ/ (Show IPA)
Botany. a thyrse.
Greek Antiquity. a staff tipped with a pine cone and sometimes twined with ivy and vine branches, borne by Dionysus and his votaries.
Origin of thyrsus
1585-95; < Latin < Greek thýrsos Bacchic staff, stem of plant Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for thyrsus
Historical Examples
  • The faces of the two satyrs and the head of the thyrsus are also much mutilated.

  • He is surrounded by his usual rout of attendants, one of whom bears a thyrsus.

    Museum of Antiquity L. W. Yaggy
  • The spears were wrapped round with ivy, and the thyrsus had a sharp point.

    The Gates of India Thomas Holdich
  • A contracted or elongated inflorescence of this sort is called a thyrsus.

  • Thyrse or thyrsus, a compact and pyramidal panicle of cymes or cymules, 79.

  • Bacchus is generally represented as crowned with ivy or grape leaves and bearing an ivy-circled wand (the thyrsus).

  • The thyrsus, however, was a javelin twisted with ivy-leaves, used in the sacrifices of Bacchus.

    The Lusiad Lus de Cames
  • Since I shall never tire, neither night nor day, striking the earth with the thyrsus.

  • Come, O thou of golden face, brandishing your thyrsus along Olympus, and restrain the insolence of the blood-thirsty man.

  • The common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) has its flowers disposed in a kind of panicled raceme called a thyrsus.

    Botany for Ladies Jane Loudon
British Dictionary definitions for thyrsus


noun (pl) -si (-saɪ)
(Greek myth) a staff, usually one tipped with a pine cone, borne by Dionysus (Bacchus) and his followers
a variant spelling of thyrse
Word Origin
C18: from Latin, from Greek thursos stalk
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 thyrsus

1590s, from Greek thyrsos, literally "stalk or stem of a plant," a non-Greek word of unknown origin. The staff or spear tipped with an ornament like a pine cone, and sometimes wreathed in ivy or vine branches, borne by Dionysus and his votaries.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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