1. a small tree or shrub belonging to the genus Acacia, of the mimosa family, having clusters of small yellow flowers.
  2. any of several other plants, as the locust tree.
  3. gum arabic.

Origin of acacia

1535–45; < Latin < Greek akakía Egyptian thorn Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for acacia


  1. any shrub or tree of the tropical and subtropical leguminous genus Acacia, having compound or reduced leaves and small yellow or white flowers in dense inflorescencesSee also wattle 1 (def. 4)
  2. false acacia another name for locust (def. 2), locust (def. 3)
  3. gum acacia another name for gum arabic

Word Origin for acacia

C16: from Latin, from Greek akakia, perhaps related to akē point
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

Word Origin and History for acacia

1540s, from Latin acacia, from Greek akakia "thorny Egyptian tree," perhaps related to Greek ake "point, thorn," from PIE root *ak- "sharp" (see acrid). Or perhaps a Hellenization of some Egyptian word. From late 14c. in English as the name of a type of gum used as an astringent, etc.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper