[ uh-kan-thuh s ]
/ əˈkæn θəs /

noun, plural a·can·thus·es, a·can·thi [uh-kan-thahy] /əˈkæn θaɪ/.

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

Nearby words

  1. acanthosis,
  2. acanthosis nigricans,
  3. acanthous,
  4. acanthrocyte,
  5. acanthrocytosis,
  6. acanthus family,
  7. acapnia,
  8. acapulco,
  9. acapulco gold,
  10. acarbose

Origin of acanthus

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

Related formsa·can·thine [uh-kan-thin, -thahyn] /əˈkæn θɪn, -θaɪn/, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for acanthine


/ (əˈkænθaɪn, -θiːn) /


of or resembling an acanthus
decorated with acanthus leaves


/ (əˈkænθəs) /

noun plural -thuses or -thi (-θaɪ)

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 AcanthaceaeSee also bear's-breech
a carved ornament based on the leaves of the acanthus plant, esp as used on the capital of a Corinthian column

Word Origin for 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

Word Origin and History for acanthine



1660s, from Latin acanthus, from Greek akanthos, from ake "point, thorn" (see acrid) + anthos "flower" (see anther). So called for its large spiny leaves. A conventionalized form of the leaf is used in Corinthian capitals.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper