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See more synonyms for buckthorn on Thesaurus.com
  1. any of several, sometimes thorny trees or shrubs belonging to the genus Rhamnus, especially R. frangula, the bark of which is used in medicine.Compare buckthorn family.
  2. a tree or shrub belonging to the genus Bumelia, of the sapodilla family, especially B. lycioides, a thorny tree having elliptic leaves and large clusters of white flowers, common in the southern and part of the central U.S.
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Origin of buckthorn

1570–80; buck1 + thorn, rendering New Latin cervi spina
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for buckthorn

Historical Examples

  • Keep the dog quiet and give him a dose of castor oil and buckthorn.

    The Airedale

    Williams Haynes

  • And Mike walked up to the maple and tapped it smartly with his buckthorn.

  • Mike with a grin pointed at his buckthorn which leaned against the wall.

  • Buckthorn was a century ago much used for hedges and arches.

    Old-Time Gardens

    Alice Morse Earle

  • The buckthorn, for example, was just coming out; and the dogwood, and the mountain laurel.


    Stewart White

British Dictionary definitions for buckthorn


  1. any of several thorny small-flowered shrubs of the genus Rhamnus, esp the Eurasian species R. cathartica, whose berries were formerly used as a purgative: family RhamnaceaeSee also sea buckthorn
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Word Origin

C16: from buck 1 (from the spiny branches, imagined as resembling antlers) + thorn
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