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See also: Thorn and þorn



thorns of a plant (sense 1)
upper- and lower-case versions of the thorn character (sense 4)


From Middle English thorn, þorn, from Old English þorn, þyrn (thorn), from Proto-Germanic *þurnuz, from Proto-Indo-European *tr̥nós, from *(s)ter- (stiff). Near cognates include West Frisian toarn, Low German Doorn, Dutch doorn, German Dorn, Danish and Norwegian torn, Swedish torn, törne, and Gothic 𐌸𐌰𐌿𐍂𐌽𐌿𐍃 (þaurnus). Further cognates include Old Church Slavonic трънъ (trŭnŭ, thorn), Russian тёрн (tjorn), Polish cierń, Albanian drizë (a thorny shrub) and Sanskrit तृण (tṛṇa, grass).



thorn (plural thorns)

  1. (botany) A sharp protective spine of a plant.
  2. Any shrub or small tree that bears thorns, especially a hawthorn.
    the white thorn
    the cockspur thorn
  3. (figuratively) That which pricks or annoys; anything troublesome.
    • Bible, 2 Corinthians xii. 7
      There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me.
    • South
      The guilt of empire, all its thorns and cares, / Be only mine.
  4. A letter of the Latin alphabet (capital: Þ, small: þ), borrowed by Old English from the futhark to represent a dental fricative, then not distinguished from eth, but in modern use (in Icelandic and other languages, but no longer in English) used only for the voiceless dental fricative found in English thigh
    • See also Etymology of ye (definite article).

Derived termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


thorn (third-person singular simple present thorns, present participle thorning, simple past and past participle thorned)

  1. To pierce with, or as if with, a thorn
    • 1869, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Old Town Folks[1]:
      [] human nature is, above all things, lazy, and needs to be thorned and goaded up those heights where it ought to fly.
    • 2003, Scott D. Zachary, Scorn This, page 175:
      Even Judge Bradley's callused sentiments were thorned by the narration of Jaclyn's journals.


See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit


Old SaxonEdit


From Proto-Germanic *þurnuz (thorn, sloe), from Proto-Indo-European *tr̥nós, from *(s)ter-. Germanic cognates include Old English þorn (English thorn), Dutch doorn, Old High German thorn (German Dorn), Old Norse þorn (Swedish törne), Gothic 𐌸𐌰𐌿𐍂𐌽𐌿𐍃 (þaurnus). The Indo-European root is also the source of Old Church Slavonic трънъ (trŭnŭ) (Russian тёрн (tjorn, sloe, blackthorn)), Sanskrit तृण (tṛṇa, grass).



thorn m

  1. thorn; thorny bush