Definition of acanthus
1 : any of a genus (Acanthus of the family Acanthaceae, the acanthus family) of prickly perennial herbs chiefly of the Mediterranean region
2 : an ornamentation (as in a Corinthian capital) representing or suggesting the leaves of the acanthus
Recent Examples of acanthus from the Web
The native black walnut, darkened with lamp black and oiled with linseed oil, was carved with life-like birds, flowers and acanthus leaves that can be seen on so much of their work.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'acanthus'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Origin and Etymology of acanthus
borrowed from Latin, borrowed from Greek ákanthos, a plant of the genus Acanthus (as A. mollis or A. spinosus), masculine derivative of ákanthă “thorn, prickle, thorny plant, spine (of a fish), backbone,” probably of pre-Greek substratal origin
First Known Use: 1551See Words from the same year
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up acanthus? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).