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thorny (adj.)

Old English þornig; see thorn + -y (2). Figurative sense is attested from mid-14c. Related: Thorniness. Similar formation in Dutch doornig, German dornig. The figurative image is widespread; Greek had akanthologos as a nickname for a quibbler, literally "thorn-gathering," and akanthobates, nickname for a grammarian (fem. akanthobatis).

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Definitions of thorny from WordNet

thorny (adj.)
bristling with perplexities;
the thorny question of states' rights
thorny (adj.)
having or covered with protective barbs or quills or spines or thorns or setae etc.;
Synonyms: barbellate / briary / briery / bristled / bristly / burred / burry / prickly / setose / setaceous / spiny
From wordnet.princeton.edu