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crown of thorns

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noun
  1. a climbing spurge, Euphorbia milii splendens, of Madagascar, having stems covered with spines.
  2. crown-of-thorns starfish.
  3. a painful burden, as of suffering, guilt, anxiety, etc.: from the wreath of thorns placed on Jesus' head to mock Him before He was crucified. Matt. 27:29; Mark 15:17; John 19:2, 5.
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Origin of crown of thorns

before 950; Middle English; Old English
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for crown-of-thorns

crown-of-thorns

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

crown-of-thorns in Culture

crown of thorns

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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Note

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.)
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.