cac·​tus | \ ˈkak-təs How to pronounce cactus (audio) \
plural cacti\ ˈkak-​ˌtī How to pronounce cactus (audio) , -​(ˌ)tē \ or cactuses also cactus

Definition of cactus

: any of a family (Cactaceae, the cactus family) of plants that have succulent stems and branches with scales or spines instead of leaves and are found especially in dry areas (such as deserts)

Examples of cactus in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The saguaro cactus is the iconic plant of the Sonoran Desert. Mare Czinar, The Arizona Republic, "Easy hike in lush Arizona desert preserve has a botanical garden feel. Here's how to do it," 12 Mar. 2021 The only cactus-prickly problem for an otherwise championship-worthy stage was the track itself. Michael Knight, The Arizona Republic, "Sunday's Cup Series race another chance for Arizona to solidify its lofty NASCAR status," 13 Mar. 2021 The Aries in your life might have a few prickly points to their personality, so this prickly pear cactus from Bloomscape is the perfect, low-maintenance gift to turn them into a soft-hearted plant parent. Kai Burkhardt, CNN Underscored, "17 gifts the Aries in your life will love," 10 Mar. 2021 If life can get started there, that probably means life in the universe isn’t like a single cactus in the desert. Lee Billings, Scientific American, "Meet the Unsung Heroes behind Humanity’s Improbable Journey to an Alien Ocean," 9 Mar. 2021 Native cactus and succulents generally were able to handle the storm better than nonnatives. Richard A. Marini, San Antonio Express-News, "The freeze-damaged plants in San Antonio yards have homeowners asking: How do I help my plants recover?," 23 Feb. 2021 One of the most striking examples is the crested cactus. Athena Aktipis, Scientific American, "How Evolution Helps Us Understand Cancer and Control It," 1 Jan. 2021 Two months under the stars and among the cactus are the perfect remedy for being locked in and down forever. Usa Today Travel Team, USA TODAY, "Pandemic wanderlust: 100 places we're yearning to travel in 2021 and beyond," 31 Dec. 2020 Most likely, the cactus is suffering from root and stem rot. Tom Maccubbin,, "Install bougainvilleas now, unless there is a freeze risk," 26 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cactus.' 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 cactus

1738, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cactus

New Latin, genus name, from Latin, cardoon, from Greek kaktos

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Statistics for cactus

Last Updated

31 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cactus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for cactus



English Language Learners Definition of cactus

: a plant that lives in the desert and that has many sharp points (called spines)


cac·​tus | \ ˈkak-təs How to pronounce cactus (audio) \
plural cacti\ -​ˌtī , -​tē \ or cactuses

Kids Definition of cactus

: any of a large group of flowering plants of dry regions that have thick juicy stems and branches with scales or spines

More from Merriam-Webster on cactus

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

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