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[kak-tuh s] /ˈkæk təs/
noun, plural cacti
[kak-tahy] /ˈkæk taɪ/ (Show IPA),
cactuses, cactus.
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 forms
cactuslike, cactoid, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cacti
  • Plants include orchids, lilies, coffee plants and cacti.
  • Other plants, such as cacti, have special means of storing and conserving water.
  • Check out the beautiful cacti, agave, and other desert plants and learn how they thrive in an extreme environment.
  • The timing was perfect to catch the effervescent glow that early sunrise creates and that these cacti are famous for.
  • We scramble down large rocks alongside cacti and thornbushes.
  • cacti must be mowed down and local wildlife displaced to make room for the giant mirrors that will essentially carpet the desert.
  • Despite their prickly armor, cacti are not immune to predators.
  • cacti are flowering plants with green, fleshy stems which have a waxy coat to retain water.
  • For many homeowners, water-wise landscaping brings to mind nightmarish visions of cacti, rock and cattle skulls.
  • Caterpillars of this moth are capable of destroying entire stands of cacti with their feeding.
British Dictionary definitions for cacti


noun (pl) -tuses, -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 Forms
cactaceous (kækˈteɪʃəs) adjective
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for cacti



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
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