noun, plural cacti [kak-tahy] , 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.

1600–10; < Latin < Greek káktos cardoon

cactuslike, cactoid, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
cactus (ˈkæktəs)
n , pl -tuses, -ti
1.  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
2.  cactus dahlia a double-flowered variety of dahlia
[C17: from Latin: prickly plant, from Greek kaktos cardoon]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

c.1600, from L. cactus "cardoon," from Gk. 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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Example sentences
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.
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