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crown of thorns

noun

  1. a succulent flowering plant, Euphorbia milii, of the spurge family, with densely spiny stems that climb and scramble over other vegetation: native to Madagascar, the species and its numerous varieties are widely cultivated for gardens and as houseplants.
  2. a painful burden, as of suffering, guilt, anxiety, etc.: from the wreath of thorns placed on Jesus' head in the Bible.


crown-of-thorns

noun

  1. a starfish, Acanthaster planci, that has a spiny test and feeds on living coral in coral reefs
  2. Also calledChrist's thorn a thorny euphorbiaceous Madagascan shrub, Euphorbia milii var. splendens, cultivated as a hedging shrub or pot plant, having flowers with scarlet bracts


crown of thorns

  1. A mock crown, made from thorn branches, that Roman soldiers put on the head of Jesus before the Crucifixion . The soldiers also “bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews (see also Jews )!’”


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Notes

In common usage, a “crown of thorns” may be anything that causes intense suffering: “The jailed political leader bears her afflictions like a crown of thorns.” Similar to the expression “cross to bear.” ( See Crucifixion .)
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Word History and Origins

Origin of crown of thorns1

First recorded before 950; Middle English; Old English

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