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thorny

[thawr-nee]
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adjective, thorn·i·er, thorn·i·est.
  1. abounding in or characterized by thorns; spiny; prickly.
  2. thornlike.
  3. overgrown with thorns or brambles.
  4. painful; vexatious: a thorny predicament.
  5. full of difficulties, complexities, or controversial points: a thorny question.
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Origin of thorny

before 1000; Middle English; Old English thornig. See thorn, -y1
Related formsthorn·i·ly, adverbthorn·i·ness, nounun·thorn·y, adjective

Synonyms

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5. tough, sticky, ticklish, perplexing.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for thorny

thorny

adjective thornier or thorniest
  1. bearing or covered with thorns
  2. difficult or unpleasanta thorny problem
  3. sharp
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Derived Formsthornily, adverbthorniness, noun
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 thorny

adj.

Old English þornig; see thorn + -y (2). Figurative sense is attested from mid-14c. Related: Thorniness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper