• synonyms


  1. a point or pointed end.
  2. Anatomy, Zoology, Botany. a point, projection, or elevation, as on the crown of a tooth.
  3. Also called spinode. Geometry. a point where two branches of a curve meet, end, and are tangent.
  4. Architecture. a decorative device, used especially in Gothic architecture to vary the outlines of intradoses or to form architectural foils, consisting of a pair of curves tangent to the real or imaginary line defining the area decorated and meeting at a point within the area.
  5. Astronomy. a point of a crescent, especially of the moon.
  6. Astrology.
    1. the zodiacal degree that marks the beginning of a house or a sign.
    2. Informal.a person born on the first day of a sign.
  7. a point that marks the beginning of a change: on the cusp of a new era.
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Origin of cusp

First recorded in 1575–85, cusp is from the Latin word cuspis a point
Related formscusp·al, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for cusps

end, flap, point, apex, tip, tooth, fold, peak, corner, angle, horn

Examples from the Web for cusps

Historical Examples of cusps

  • Tricuspidate: ending in three points: with three cusps or teeth.

    Explanation of Terms Used in Entomology

    John. B. Smith

  • Quatrefoils are made by arranging four cusps within a circle.


    Charles E. Kelsey

  • In the sub-arches the key-stones and cusps are formed of stone.

  • Fulgur has a median tooth with three cusps; Buccinum one with six.

    The Sea-beach at Ebb-tide

    Augusta Foote Arnold

  • It is engrailed, presenting ten cusps, and may be placed in the class of decade-rings.

    Finger-Ring Lore

    William Jones

British Dictionary definitions for cusps


  1. any of the small elevations on the grinding or chewing surface of a tooth
  2. any of the triangular flaps of a heart valve
  3. a point or pointed end
  4. Also called: spinode geometry a point at which two arcs of a curve intersect and at which the two tangents are coincident
  5. architect a carving at the meeting place of two arcs
  6. astronomy either of the points of a crescent moon or of a satellite or inferior planet in a similar phase
  7. astrology any division between houses or signs of the zodiac
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Word Origin for cusp

C16: from Latin cuspis point, pointed end
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 cusps



1580s, from Latin cuspis "point, spear, pointed end, head," of unknown origin. Astrological use is earliest.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cusps in Medicine


  1. A pointed or rounded projection on the chewing surface of a tooth.
  2. A triangular fold or flap of a heart valve.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.