- any of a genus (Acanthus) of thistlelike plants of the acanthus family with lobed, often spiny leaves and long spikes of white or colored flowers, found in the Mediterranean region
- Archit. a motif or conventional representation of the leaf of this plant, used esp. on the capitals of Corinthian columns
Origin of acanthusModern Latin ; from Classical Latin ; from Classical Greek akanthos: see acantho-
nounpl. a·can·thus·es or a·can·thi
- Any of various perennial herbs or small shrubs of the genus Acanthus, native to the Mediterranean and having pinnately lobed basal leaves with spiny margins and showy spikes of white or purplish flowers.
- Architecture A design patterned after the leaves of one of these plants, used especially on the capitals of Corinthian columns.
Origin of acanthusNew Latin Acanthus, genus name, from Greek akanthos, thorn plant, from akantha, thorn.
top: bear's breeches
bottom: acanthus pattern on a column's capital
(plural acanthuses or acanthi)
- (botany) A member of the genus Acanthus of herbaceous prickly plants with toothed leaves, (family Acanthaceae, order Scrophulariales) found in the south of Europe, Asia Minor, and India.[First attested in the mid 16th century.]
- (architecture) An ornament resembling the foliage or leaves of Acanthus spinosus used in the capitals of the Corinthian and composite orders.[First attested in the mid 18th century.]
From Latin acanthus, from Ancient Greek ἄκανθος (akanthos), from ἀκή (akē, “thorn”) + ἄνθος (anthos, “flower”).
From Ancient Greek ἄκανθος (akanthos), from ἄκανθα (akantha, “thorn”) , from ἀκή (akē, “point”).
- (zoology) Animal having such a spine.
From New Latin, from Ancient Greek ἄκανθα (akantha, “thorn, spine”)