from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A thorny deciduous Eurasian shrub (Prunus spinosa) having white flowers and small, bluish-black, plumlike fruits used chiefly for flavoring alcoholic beverages such as sloe gin. Also called sloe.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A large shrub or small tree, Prunus spinosa, that is native to Europe, western Asia, and north Africa. It has a dark bark and bears thorns.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A spreading thorny shrub or small tree (Prunus spinosa), with blackish bark, and bearing little black plums, which are called sloes; the sloe.
  • n. A species of Cratægus or hawthorn (Cratægus tomentosa). Both are used for hedges.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The sloe, Prunus spinosa. See sloe.
  • n. A walking-stick made of the stem of this shrub.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a thorny Eurasian bush with plumlike fruits
  • n. erect and almost thornless American hawthorn with somewhat pear-shaped berries


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • But once the plant has flowered, the weather then turns cold, a period known as the "blackthorn winter".

    Weatherwatch: March's borrowing days

  • Linnaeus dubbed blackthorn Prunus spinosa because everything about it is prickly, tart, sour and generally stroppy.


  • Even the aid of the "blackthorn" was occasionally invoked as an effective instrument for securing correction or impressing conviction.

    The Young Priest's Keepsake

  • I spared most of it, because blackthorn makes a magnificent show of snowy blossom when the cold north-east winds blow in late March, known as the blackthorn winter’.


  • And it has been a fantastic year for fruits, with hawthorns, hollies and blackthorn producing terrific crops of berries.

    Plantwatch: Autumn arrives with brilliant colour and a bumper crop of berries

  • There are still some fat, red berries among the hawthorns, though, and blackthorn bushes have their own blue-black berries known as sloes, which make delicious sloe gin.

    Plantwatch: Traveller's joy and old man's beard herald Father Christmas

  • A tangle of blackthorn grows in the sheltered "v" and the first scattering of white flowers star its dark uncompromising branches.

    Country diary: South Uist

  • He turned his arm toward her, pulling the torn cloth from the spot on his bicep that had borne the cut of the blackthorn hours earlier.

    Healing the Highlander

  • Around small pastures the leaves on hazel bushes are already turning yellow and, on untrimmed hawthorn and blackthorn, there are reddening haws and purple-green sloes.

    Country diary: St Stephens-by-Saltash

  • It is said that towards the end of March there is often a period of fine, sunny and warm weather, which brings the blackthorn into bloom.

    Weatherwatch: March's borrowing days


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