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[kak-tuh s] /ˈkæk təs/
noun, plural cacti
[kak-tahy] /ˈkæk taɪ/ (Show IPA),
cactuses, cactus.
any of numerous succulent plants of the family Cactaceae, of warm, arid regions of the New World, having fleshy, leafless, usually spiny stems, and typically having solitary, showy flowers.
Origin of cactus
1600-10; < Latin < Greek káktos cardoon
Related forms
cactuslike, cactoid, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for cacti
Historical Examples
  • The cacti arose higher, and you could say that they grew on the head of one another.

    Sielanka: An Idyll Henryk Sienkiewicz
  • Nopalry: a plantation of cacti for raising cochineal insects.

  • Leaving the path to our left, we made our way among the cacti.

  • All present knew the meaning of this, and regarded the cacti with a murmur of satisfaction.

    The Scalp Hunters Mayne Reid
  • She fell, and cursed aloud as she felt the sting of cacti spines in her palm.

    The Lady Doc

    Caroline Lockhart
  • There were cacti of all kinds around them, and as they ran, the spines caught their clothes.

    The Mexican Twins Lucy Fitch Perkins
  • cacti are the most numerous of the species of vegetable life.

    The Mystic Mid-Region Arthur J. Burdick
  • After about 75 years, the cacti are tall and develop their first branches.

    Deserts A. S. Walker
  • The Rainbow is one of the most difficult of the cacti to grow under cultivation.

    The Fantastic Clan John James Thornber
  • This, notwithstanding the fact that they are the most highly evolved of all cacti.

    The Fantastic Clan John James Thornber
British Dictionary definitions for cacti


noun (pl) -tuses, -ti (-taɪ)
any spiny succulent plant of the family Cactaceae of the arid regions of America. Cactuses have swollen tough stems, leaves reduced to spines or scales, and often large brightly coloured flowers
cactus dahlia, a double-flowered variety of dahlia
Derived Forms
cactaceous (kækˈteɪʃəs) adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Latin: prickly plant, from Greek kaktos cardoon
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cacti



c.1600, from Latin cactus "cardoon," from Greek kaktos, name of a type of prickly plant of Sicily (the Spanish artichoke), perhaps of pre-Hellenic origin. Modern meaning is 18c., because Linnaeus gave the name to a group of plants he thought were related to this but are not.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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