[ uh-kan-thuhs ]

noun,plural a·can·thus·es, a·can·thi [uh-kan-thahy]. /əˈkæn θaɪ/.
  1. any of several plants of the genus Acanthus, of the Mediterranean region, having spiny or toothed leaves and showy, white or purplish flowers.: Compare acanthus family.

  2. an architectural ornament, as in the Corinthian capital, resembling the leaves of this plant.

Origin of acanthus

1610–20; <New Latin, Latin <Greek ákanthos bear's-foot

Other words from acanthus

  • a·can·thine [uh-kan-thin, -thahyn], /əˈkæn θɪn, -θaɪn/, adjective

Words Nearby acanthus Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use acanthus in a sentence

  • This basket happened to be placed just above the root of an acanthus.

  • The legs are boldly carved with the acanthus leaf, and everything about the piano is as elegant as possible.

    The Old Furniture Book | N. Hudson Moore
  • It has a greater resemblance to the acanthus plant than it has to any solar disk imaginable.

    The Swastika | Thomas Wilson
  • The tamarisk appears afterwards to have given the idea of a subdivision of leaf more pure and quaint than that of the acanthus.

  • The capitals are formed by the semi-Gothic classical acanthus leaves of the period.

    Cathedral Cities of Italy | William Wiehe Collins

British Dictionary definitions for acanthus


/ (əˈkænθəs) /

nounplural -thuses or -thi (-θaɪ)
  1. any shrub or herbaceous plant of the genus Acanthus, native to the Mediterranean region but widely cultivated as ornamental plants, having large spiny leaves and spikes of white or purplish flowers: family Acanthaceae: See also bear's-breech

  2. a carved ornament based on the leaves of the acanthus plant, esp as used on the capital of a Corinthian column

Origin of acanthus

C17: New Latin, from Greek akanthos, from akantha thorn, spine

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