Definitions

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

  • n. Any of numerous weedy plants, chiefly of the genera Cirsium, Carduus, or Onopordum of the composite family, having prickly leaves and variously colored flower heads surrounded by prickly bracts.
  • n. Any of various similar or related plants.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of several perennial composite plants, especially of genera Cirsium, Carduus, Cynara or Onopordum, having prickly leaves and showy flower heads with prickly bracts.
  • n. This plant seen as the national emblem of Scotland.
  • n. The Order of the Thistle, or membership thereof.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any one of several prickly composite plants, especially those of the genera Cnicus, Craduus, and Onopordon. The name is often also applied to other prickly plants.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One of numerous stout composite weeds, armed with spines or prickles, bearing globular or thickly cylindrical heads with purple, yellow, or white flowers and no rays, and dispersing their seed by the aid of a light globe of pappus.
  • n. The artichoke.
  • n. The wild lettuce, Lactuca Scariola, var. virosa.
  • n. Same as blessed thistle.

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

  • n. any of numerous plants of the family Compositae and especially of the genera Carduus and Cirsium and Onopordum having prickly-edged leaves

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English thistel.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old English þistel, from Proto-Germanic *þistilaz. *þīh- from *teyg-, which is a variant of Proto-Indo-European *steyg- (“to prick”); from this same Proto-Indo-European root comes English stick. Cognates include German Distel and Icelandic þistill. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • It's the flower of France, you know – just as the thistle is the – '

    The Convert

  • I have made the Scotch Thistle Lace Stole in "thistle-y" colors and had it with me when we toured Scotland in 07.

    Jean's Knitting

  • The thistle is armed with sharp prickles; the mallow is soft and woolly.

    Hymns in Prose for Children

  • 'but as those silly children are going to dress, I suppose I had better put on the gown which I call my thistle gown.

    Hollyhock A Spirit of Mischief

  • Before we parted, they gave me Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer’s “Scotch Thistle Lace Stole” pattern, some incredibly beautiful Fiesta Ballerina yarn in thistle-y colours to knit it in and enough Bristol Yarn Gallery “Buckingham” in a sort of camel-by-moonlight shade, to knit it again.

    Jean's Knitting

  • That's a sow thistle, which is halfway between a chicory and lettuce—it can be eaten raw or as greens, which I actually prefer.

    Modern Hunter-Gatherers

  • In French iconography, the thistle is the symbol of the pain of Christ and of the Virgin.

    Archive 2009-04-01

  • Andy, remember, one of the herbs you put me on was milk thistle, which is very soothing and protective.

    CNN Transcript Apr 15, 2002

  • For instance, in my particular case, I use milk thistle, which is silymarin, because it sort of nurtures the hepatic cells.

    CNN Transcript - Larry King Live: Andrew Weil Discusses `Eating Well' - April 5, 2000

  • "Then the thistle is your flower," said clever Ileane.

    Roumanian Fairy Tales

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