• Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Thornback (Zoöl) A European skate (Raia clavata) having thornlike spines on its back.
    • Thornback (Zoöl) The large European spider crab or king crab (Maia squinado).
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n thornback In Australia, one of the sting-rays, Raja lemprieri or Raja rostata, of the family Rajidæ.
    • n thornback A kind of ray or skate, Raia clavata, common on the British coasts, distinguished by the short and strong spines which are scattered over the back and tail. It grows about 2 feet long, and is very voracious, feeding on small flounders, herrings, sandeels, crabs, lobsters, etc. Many are taken every year, and the flesh is considered to be excellent. The female is in Scotland called maiden-skate.
    • n thornback The common British spider-crab, Maia squinado. Sometimes called king-crab. See cut under Maia.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • Thornback a species of ray or skate which has nail-like crooked spines in its back
    • ***


Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
A.S. thorn; Ice. thorn, Ger. dorn.


In literature:

Here are also skates, thornbacks, and other fish of the ray kind (one sort especially like the sea-devil), and gar-fish, bonetas, etc.
"Early Australian Voyages" by John Pinkerton
The boy gave a curious half-sad smile, without turning his eyes from the thornback, and said nothing.
"Weighed and Wanting" by George MacDonald
The Thornback is another ugly fellow of this family, having spines on his back and a double row of them down his tail.
"Within the Deep" by R. Cadwallader Smith
Here are also skates, thornbacks, and other fish of the ray kind (one sort especially like the sea-devil) and garfish, bonetas, etc.
"A Voyage to New Holland" by William Dampier
It is these purses, and those of the thornback and the edible skate, that we oftenest pick up on the English coast.
"Science in Arcady" by Grant Allen
I had marked, however, a dried thornback hanging among the rigging.
"The Cruise of the Betsey" by Hugh Miller
This is the best sauce for skate, maid, or thornback.
"The Cook and Housekeeper's Complete and Universal Dictionary; Including a System of Modern Cookery, in all Its Various Branches," by Mary Eaton
THORNBACK, difference in the teeth of the two sexes of the, ii.
"The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex" by Charles Darwin
The Rays are large flat fish of which there are numerous species, the Thornback and the Common Skate being the best known.
"Natural History in Anecdote" by Various
The Thornback Skate is covered with prickles (placoid scales).
"Stories of the Universe: Animal Life" by B. Lindsay