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, "A New Look at Britain’s Old Treasures," 23 Jan. 2020 Hillsides of unruly acanthus — nature's template for Corinthian columns — precede the Domus Augustana. Washington Post, "Rome’s seven hills offer seven green respites from summer’s crowds," 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, "The Hunt for Mexico’s Heirloom Beans," 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, "Why old buildings use the same leaf design on columns," 28 Mar. 2018 The bezels on each center stone are composed of acanthus leaves sculpted in gold. Stellene Volandes, Town & Country, "Dior's Latest Fine Jewelry Collection Is Inspired By Royalty's Hidden Secrets," 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,, "W. Roger Fry, lawyer who loved nature and carvings, dead at 77," 5 May 2017

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for acanthus

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The first known use of acanthus was in 1551

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Cite this Entry

“Acanthus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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Nglish: Translation of acanthus for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about acanthus

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