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[chohl-yah, -yuh; Spanish chaw-yah] /ˈtʃoʊl yɑ, -yə; Spanish ˈtʃɔ yɑ/
noun, plural chollas
[chohl-yahz, -yuh z; Spanish chaw-yahs] /ˈtʃoʊl yɑz, -yəz; Spanish ˈtʃɔ yɑs/ (Show IPA)
any of several spiny treelike cacti belonging to the genus Opuntia, especially O. fulgida of the southwestern U.S. and Mexico, having knobby outgrowths and yellow spines.
Origin of cholla
1855-60, Americanism; < Mexican Spanish cholla head (perhaps < Old French (dial.) cholle ball < Gmc); see keel1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for cholla
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Among these the cholla is at once one of the most fascinating and the most exasperating.

    The Book of the National Parks Robert Sterling Yard
  • cholla (Opuntia fulgida) ranges from Nevada southward into Mexico.

    American Forest Trees

    Henry H. Gibson
  • So if you are to see this phenomenon you will have to be on time, for cholla never wait.

    The Fantastic Clan John James Thornber
  • Very cautiously a man emerged from behind a clump of cholla.

    Steve Yeager William MacLeod Raine
  • The dried heaps of cholla stirred as if unseen paws had pressed them.

    The Heart of the Desert

    Honor Willsie Morrow
  • As they reached the open trail, thrush and to-hee fluttered from the cholla.

    The Heart of the Desert

    Honor Willsie Morrow
  • She had come thus far, and had stepped into a bed of cholla.

    Captured by the Navajos Charles A. Curtis
  • From three to six feet tall, resembling cholla, with long, cylindrical joints and whitish spines.

  • At first our road lay through low mountains, in valleys abounding in cholla cactus.

British Dictionary definitions for cholla


/ˈtʃəʊljɑː; Spanish ˈtʃoʎa/
any of several spiny cacti of the genus Opuntia that grow in the southwestern US and Mexico and have cylindrical stem segments See also prickly pear
Word Origin
Mexican Spanish, from Spanish: head, perhaps from Old French (dialect) cholle ball, of Germanic origin
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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