[this-uh l]


any of various prickly, composite plants having showy, purple flower heads, especially of the genera Cirsium, Carduus, or Onopordum.
any of various other prickly plants.

Origin of thistle

before 900; Middle English thistel, Old English; cognate with Dutch distel, German Distel, Old Norse thistill
Related formsthis·tle·like, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for thistle

Historical Examples of thistle

  • Yes, here is the shamrock—the rose, the ever blowing rose—and the thistle.

  • "No use smoothing a thistle, Mr. Cregeen," said Jonaique soothingly.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

  • Bishop noticed the thistle bouquet in a vase over the chronometer.


    James Causey

  • You go off to Harkhurst; they can put you up at the Crown and Thistle.

  • And this other, either a thistle or not a thistle; but not thistlaceous.

British Dictionary definitions for thistle



any of numerous plants of the genera Cirsium, Carduus, and related genera, having prickly-edged leaves, pink, purple, yellow, or white dense flower heads, and feathery hairs on the seeds: family Asteraceae (composites)
a thistle, or a representation of one, as the national emblem of Scotland
Derived Formsthistly, adjective

Word Origin for thistle

Old English thīstel, related to Old Saxon, Old High German thīstil, Old Norse thīstill


noun the Thistle

(sometimes not capital)
  1. the emblem of this Order
  2. membership of this Order
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

Word Origin and History for thistle

prickly herbaceous plant, Old English þistel, from Proto-Germanic *thikhstula (cf. Old High German distil, German Distel, Old Norse þistell, Danish tidsel), of unknown origin. Emblem of Scotland since 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper