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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 cactus
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She's as pretty as a cactus flower, or a sunrise on the staked plains.

    Faro Nell and Her Friends Alfred Henry Lewis
  • Every grain of sand, every cactus spine bore a tiny rainbow.

    The Forbidden Trail Honor Willsie
  • They fled toward a patch of rocks and cactus in the direction of Devil's Chute.

    Bloom of Cactus Robert Ames Bennet
  • It was your very strength that repelled me, like the spines of the cactus.

    Bloom of Cactus Robert Ames Bennet
  • He made the most of the cactus, but there was an emptiness about the pit of his stomach.

    Oh, You Tex! William Macleod Raine
  • And there were sunsets, and sand, and cactus and mountains, and campers and Fords.

    Gigolo Edna Ferber
British Dictionary definitions for cactus


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 cactus

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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