- a very short, hard, leafless branch or stem with a sharp point
- any small tree or shrub bearing thorns, as a hawthorn
- the wood of any of these trees
- a sharp, pointed protuberance on an animal; spine
- anything that keeps troubling, vexing, or irritating one, like a constantly pricking thornusually in the phrase thorn in one's side (or flesh)
- a rune in the Old English and Old Norse alphabets (Þ, þ), used to represent the voiced or voiceless apicodental fricative: in Middle English orthography it was gradually replaced by th
Origin of thornMiddle English from OE, akin to German dorn from Indo-European an unverified form (s)ter-, prickly plant ( from base an unverified form ster-, to be stiff) from source Classical Greek ternax, cactus stem
- Botany a. A modified branch in the form of a sharp woody structure.b. Any of various other sharp protuberances, such as a spine.c. Any of various shrubs, trees, or woody plants bearing such sharp structures.
- Any of various sharp protuberances on an animal.
- One that causes sharp pain, irritation, or discomfort: He is a thorn in my side.
- The runic letter þ, used in Old English, Middle English, and Old Norse manuscripts to represent both the voiceless sound (th) of Modern English thin and the voiced sound (&phonth;) of Modern English this, and in modern Icelandic orthography to represent the voiceless sound (th).
Origin of thornMiddle English from Old English