• synonyms


[uh-kan-thuh s]
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.
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for acanthus

Historical Examples

  • These resolutions were passed, and the deputies from Acanthus rose again.



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

  • The 519 shape of the acanthus leaves is not that characteristic of the pre-Roman period.

  • In Italy the name of Branca orsina is given to the Acanthus.

  • Theocritus speaks of a prize cup as having a crust of soft Acanthus.

British Dictionary definitions for acanthus


noun plural -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 AcanthaceaeSee 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
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Word Origin

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 acanthus


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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper