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be a thorn in (someone's) side

To be a constant or persistent cause of annoyance, frustration, or trouble. My professor was an environmental activist when he was younger, and, apparently, he was quite a thorn in the oil companies' sides at the time.
See also: side, thorn

crown of thorns

Something that causes one pain and suffering. Alludes to the crown of thorns that Jesus was made to wear before his crucifixion. Its usage is similar to the phrase "cross to bear. I can't stand to see how sick she has become. This illness is a real crown of thorns. This class is my crown of thorns. No matter how much I study, I just keep getting awful grades.
See also: crown, of, thorn

There's no rose without a thorn.

Prov. to enjoy any beautiful or pleasant thing, you must endure something difficult or painful. Mike: My bride is lovely and gracious, but I'm discovering that she has a terrible temper. Bill: There's no rose without a thorn.
See also: rose, thorn, without

*thorn in someone's side

 and *thorn in someone's flesh
Fig. a constant bother or annoyance to someone. (*Typically: be ~; become ~.) This problem is a thorn in my side. I wish I had a solution for it. John was a thorn in my flesh for years before I finally got rid of him.
See also: side, thorn

a thorn in somebody's/something's side

also a thorn in the side of somebody/something
someone or something that continually causes problems Most teachers usually have one student in their class who is a thorn in their side. The town finds the casino a thorn in its side, even though it brings huge numbers of tourists to the town. Health inspectors are a thorn in the side of most restaurant owners.
See also: side, thorn

be a thorn in somebody's flesh/side

someone or something that keeps annoying you or causing you trouble A relentless campaigner, he was a thorn in the government's side for years.
See also: flesh, thorn

thorn in one's flesh

Also, thorn in one's side. A constant source of irritation, as in Paul's complaining and whining are a thorn in my flesh, or Mother's always comparing us children-it's a thorn in our sides. This metaphoric expression appears twice in the Bible. In Judges 2:3 it is enemies that "shall be as thorns in your sides"; in II Corinthians 12:7 Paul says his infirmities are "given to me a thorn in the flesh."
See also: flesh, thorn
References in classic literature ?
For several days the boy and the ape lay up while the former recovered from the painful wounds inflicted by the sharp thorns.
So the Nightingale pressed closer against the thorn, and louder and louder grew her song, for she sang of the birth of passion in the soul of a man and a maid.
But the thorn had not yet reached her heart, so the rose's heart remained white, for only a Nightingale's heart's-blood can crimson the heart of a rose.
So the Nightingale pressed closer against the thorn, and the thorn touched her heart, and a fierce pang of pain shot through her.
latest called of nations,--called to the crown of thorns, the scourge, the bloody sweat, the cross of agony,--this is to be thy victory; by this shalt thou reign with Christ when his kingdom shall come on earth.
His eyelids closed, and his head sank on his shoulders, but the thorns ran into him and were so painful that he awoke at once.
he said, and his bright, restless eyes travelled over me, to my hands, to the stick I carried, to my feet, to the tattered places in my coat, and the cuts and scratches I had received from the thorns.
The crown of thorns was made of real thorns, and was nailed to the sacred head.
In those days conversation was still cultivated as an art; a neat repartee was more highly valued than the crackling of thorns under a pot; and the epigram, not yet a mechanical appliance by which the dull may achieve a semblance of wit, gave sprightliness to the small talk of the urbane.
With Tudor, Adamu Adam and Arahu were to stop as guards, the latter Tahitian being selected to remain because of a bad foot which had been brought about by stepping on one of the thorns concealed by the bushmen.
That night two uncles and another brother stepped on poisoned thorns and died horribly.
Thenceforth the Annos had feared the thorns too greatly to dare again, although ever their vindictiveness smouldered and they lived in hope of the day when Nalasu's head should adorn their ridgepole.
And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprung up and choked them.
O'erhung with ugly truths, the spoil of his hunting, and rich in torn raiment; many thorns also hung on him--but I saw no rose.
It is said that every life has its roses and thorns; there seemed, however, to have been a misadventure or mistake in Stephen's case, whereby somebody else had become possessed of his roses, and he had become possessed of the same somebody else's thorns in addition to his own.