Save This Word!

a combining form from Greek meaning “spine,” used in the formation of compound words: acanthocephalan.
There are grammar debates that never die; and the ones highlighted in the questions in this quiz are sure to rile everyone up once again. Do you know how to answer the questions that cause some of the greatest grammar debates?
Question 1 of 7
Which sentence is correct?
Also especially before a vowel, acanth-.

Origin of acantho-

<Greek akantho-, combining form of ákantha thorn
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does acantho- mean?

The combining form acantho– is used like a prefix meaning “spine,” especially in the sense of sharp, thorny projections. It is often used in scientific terms, especially in biology and pathology.

The form acantho– comes from Greek ákantha, meaning “thorn” or “thorny plant,” which is a compound of akḗ, “point,” and ánthos, “flower.” Find out how acantho– is related to acme, the highest point, and anthology, a collection of writing, at our entry for each word.

What are variants of acantho-?

When combined with words or word elements that begin with a vowel, acantho– becomes acanth-, as in acanthoid.

Examples of acantho-

One example of a scientific term that features the form acantho– is acanthology, “the study of spines, as in sea urchins or certain spiny-headed worms.”

We know acantho– means “spine,” and the logy portion of the word refers to “science,” as in a body of knowledge, from Greek logía. Acanthology literally translates to “study of spines.”

What are some words that use the combining form acantho– or acanth-?

What are some other forms that acantho– or acanth– may be commonly confused with?

Break it down!

The combining form cyte means “cell.” With this in mind, what does the medical term acanthocyte literally mean?

British Dictionary definitions for acantho-


before a vowel acanth-

combining form
indicating a spine or thornacanthocephalan

Word Origin for acantho-

New Latin from Greek akanthos thorn plant, from akantha thorn
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