acanthus

noun
acan·​thus | \ ə-ˈkan(t)-thəs How to pronounce acanthus (audio) \
plural acanthus

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

Illustration of acanthus

Illustration of acanthus

acanthus 2

Examples of acanthus in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Visitors to the British galleries can climb the stairs, with their intricate carvings of acanthus foliage, oak leaves and other vegetation, to inspect a new mezzanine area. Peter Saenger, WSJ, 23 Jan. 2020 Hillsides of unruly acanthus — nature's template for Corinthian columns — precede the Domus Augustana. Washington Post, 12 July 2019 Instead of angels and saints, there were soldiers beheading one another; instead of Madonnas and Christs, there were pregnant women sprouting from acanthus buds. Junot Díaz, The New Yorker, 17 Apr. 2018 The acanthus leaves on the column have remained consistent over millennia and, over time, have come to represent more than just a sturdy plant. Phil Edwards, Vox, 28 Mar. 2018 The bezels on each center stone are composed of acanthus leaves sculpted in gold. Stellene Volandes, Town & Country, 6 Mar. 2018 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. Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati.com, 5 May 2017 See More

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.

First Known Use of acanthus

1551, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for 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

Learn More About acanthus

Time Traveler for acanthus

Time Traveler

The first known use of acanthus was in 1551

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near acanthus

Acanthurus

acanthus

Acanthus family

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for acanthus

Cite this Entry

“Acanthus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/acanthus. Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on acanthus

Nglish: Translation of acanthus for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about acanthus

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!