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[noh-puh l, noh-pahl, -pal] /ˈnoʊ pəl, noʊˈpɑl, -ˈpæl/
any of several cacti of the genus Nopalea, resembling the prickly pear.
the fruit of such a cactus, or of a similar cactus, as the prickly pear.
Origin of nopal
1720-30; < Mexican Spanish < Nahuatl nohpalli Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for nopal
Historical Examples
  • It is brought to us from Mexico, where the animal lives upon the cactus opuntia or nopal.

  • Within a short distance of the hut there were some nopal cactus-plants.

  • Young women wearing the most recent thing in ash-coloured travelling suits were not so plentiful in nopal!

    Whirligigs O. Henry
  • The deep reds of the nopal Coccus have furnished the purple of kings.

    The Insect Jules Michelet
  • nopal, coming forward, stooped low and rolled a hoop along the ground, which the boys had pounded smooth and hard for the game.

    History of California Helen Elliott Bandini
  • "Hush, do not waken mother," said nopal, speaking very softly.

    History of California Helen Elliott Bandini
  • In the central part of the country they use a spear made of a thin reed and tipped with thorns of the nopal.

  • "We must get away now; Nihie will be back soon to get the offerings," said nopal.

    History of California Helen Elliott Bandini
  • Land of the nopal and maguey—home of Moctezuma and Malinché!

    The War Trail Mayne Reid
  • "We must hurry to get in the jacal before father," said nopal, suddenly.

    History of California Helen Elliott Bandini
British Dictionary definitions for nopal


any of various cactuses of the genus Nopalea, esp the red-flowered N. cochinellifera, which is a host plant of the cochineal insect
a cactus, Opuntia lindheimeri, having yellow flowers and purple fruits See also prickly pear
Word Origin
C18: from Spanish, from Nahuatl nopálli cactus
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 nopal

Mexican cactus, from American Spanish, from Nahuatl nopalli.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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