[kak-tuh s]

noun, plural cac·ti [kak-tahy] /ˈkæk taɪ/, cac·tus·es, cac·tus.

any of numerous succulent plants of the family Cactaceae, of warm, arid regions of the New World, having fleshy, leafless, usually spiny stems, and typically having solitary, showy flowers.

Origin of cactus

1600–10; < Latin < Greek káktos cardoon
Related formscac·tus·like, cac·toid, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cactus

Contemporary Examples of cactus

Historical Examples of cactus

  • She's as pretty as a cactus flower, or a sunrise on the staked plains.

    Faro Nell and Her Friends

    Alfred Henry Lewis

  • Every grain of sand, every cactus spine bore a tiny rainbow.

    The Forbidden Trail

    Honor Willsie

  • They fled toward a patch of rocks and cactus in the direction of Devil's Chute.

    Bloom of Cactus

    Robert Ames Bennet

  • It was your very strength that repelled me, like the spines of the cactus.

    Bloom of Cactus

    Robert Ames Bennet

  • He made the most of the cactus, but there was an emptiness about the pit of his stomach.

    Oh, You Tex!

    William Macleod Raine

British Dictionary definitions for cactus


noun plural -tuses or -ti (-taɪ)

any spiny succulent plant of the family Cactaceae of the arid regions of America. Cactuses have swollen tough stems, leaves reduced to spines or scales, and often large brightly coloured flowers
cactus dahlia a double-flowered variety of dahlia
Derived Formscactaceous (kækˈteɪʃəs), adjective

Word Origin for cactus

C17: from Latin: prickly plant, from Greek kaktos cardoon
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 cactus

c.1600, from Latin cactus "cardoon," from Greek kaktos, name of a type of prickly plant of Sicily (the Spanish artichoke), perhaps of pre-Hellenic origin. Modern meaning is 18c., because Linnaeus gave the name to a group of plants he thought were related to this but are not.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper