There are 2 main definitions of thorn in English:

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thorn 1

Pronunciation: /THôrn/


1A stiff, sharp-pointed, straight or curved woody projection on the stem or other part of a plant.
Example sentences
  • Roses ramble over walls, branches stiff with thorns and laden with huge blossoms.
  • Certain plants have developed thorns to prevent themselves from being devoured and they work equally well as deterrents for humans too.
  • Here in south Texas, where the mesquite brush and most other native plants have thorns and where not a few critters have a mean bite, it helps to be tough.
1.1A source of discomfort, annoyance, or difficulty; an irritation or an obstacle: the issue has become a thorn in renewing the peace talks See also a thorn in someone's side below.
More example sentences
  • Why do our love lives have to be a winding road full of obstacles and thorns?
  • A friend and I were sitting around commiserating about the things that get to us: unloading small indignities, comparing thorns.
  • His visits to the shrine have been a thorn that is increasingly irritating relations between the two countries.
2 (also thorn bush or thorn tree) A thorny bush, shrub, or tree, especially a hawthorn.
Example sentences
  • ‘They threw me over the back of a camel and told me they would kill me if I cried,’ he said, sitting quietly under a thorn tree on the outskirts of Turalei.
  • Instead of a well-equipped school their children are taught beneath the shade of a thorn tree.
  • When he reached Glastonbury he planted his staff, which then took root and grew into a thorn tree.
3An Old English and Icelandic runic letter, Þ or þ, representing the dental fricatives T͟H and TH. In English it was eventually superseded by the digraph th. Compare with eth.
So named from the word of which it was the first letter
Example sentences
  • Similarly, thorn may represent either a voiceless or a voiced sound: compare the current use of the digraph th in three and these.



there is no rose without a thorn

proverb Every apparently desirable situation has its share of trouble or difficulty.
Example sentences
  • There is no rose without a thorn, but people getting all hot and bothered is not going to do Sligo any good.
  • But there is no rose without a thorn and they stand for life's difficulties and tragedies.
  • Among other things, Stenwick prides itself upon the comeliness of its damsels, but, just as there is no rose without a thorn, so there is no parish whose gallery of feminine pulchritude is utterly flawless.

a thorn in someone's side (or flesh)

A source of continual annoyance or trouble: the pastor has long been a thorn in the side of the regime
More example sentences
  • We will continue to be a thorn in his side, keeping a close eye on him and interfering with his criminal activities.
  • A committed republican, he continued to be a thorn in Cromwell 's side, being elected to the protector's parliaments of 1654 and 1656, but prevented from taking his seat.
  • His uncompromising attitude continually made him a thorn in the Establishment 's side.



Pronunciation: /ˈTHôrnləs/
sense 1.
Example sentences
  • While the species is thorny in its native habitat, many cultivars are thornless, though not all.
  • While citrus grown from seed may come true - that is, be identical to the mother tree - many gardeners plant grafted trees to ensure a good-eating fruit, quicker production and a thornless tree.
  • It often forms dense thickets, and these are often thorny, since thornless cultivars appear to retain genes for thorniness that may be expressed as genes recombine in their progeny.


Pronunciation: /ˈTHôrnˌpro͞of/
sense 1.
Example sentences
  • I could've worn my jacket, it was quite thornproof, but in that heat it just wasn't worth unrolling it.
  • But in the summer heat you certainly don't want to be hauling a full-weight thornproof outfit around.
  • The tubes can be easily replaced with thornproof or solid rubber tubes which we carry in stock.


Old English, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch doorn and German Dorn.

  • One of the earliest recorded Old English words, first found before ad 700. A thorn in the side or thorn in the flesh is a source of continual annoyance or trouble. Both expressions are of biblical origin. The Old Testament book of Numbers has a verse which reads: ‘Those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.’ In the New Testament the Second Epistle to the Corinthians has: ‘And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me.’ See also rose

Words that rhyme with thorn

adorn, born, borne, bourn, Braun, brawn, corn, dawn, drawn, faun, fawn, forborne, forewarn, forlorn, freeborn, lawn, lorn, morn, mourn, newborn, Norn, outworn, pawn, prawn, Quorn, sawn, scorn, Sean, shorn, spawn, suborn, sworn, thrawn, torn, Vaughan, warn, withdrawn, worn, yawn

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: thorn

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There are 2 main definitions of thorn in English:

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Thorn 2

Pronunciation: /tôrn/
German name for Toruń.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: Thorn

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