cac·​tus | \ˈkak-təs \
plural cacti\ -​ˌtī , -​(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

Who knew a pool noodle could be such a cute faux-cactus?! Danielle Tullo, House Beautiful, "This DIY Pool Noodle Cactus Is Effing Brilliant," 27 July 2018 Bobcats have been known to climb tall trees and even saguaros, a type of cactus that can grow up to 66 feet tall. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "Bobcat sitting on top of tall cactus goes viral after being spotted by 2 bikers," 19 June 2018 Add a bit of fertilizer every time you water in warm, sunny months, when your cactus is growing. Noah Johnson, GQ, "How to Not Kill Your Fancy New Cactus," 31 May 2018 Other common euphorbias include crotons, crown of thorns, and many other cactus-like plants. Kenneth Setzer, miamiherald, "Some of South Florida's most popular plants may be toxic to pets," 14 June 2018 The results won’t be as precise in other parts of the country where the algorithm has not been trained on local conditions—a redwood tree or saguaro cactus looks nothing like a willow oak. Bill Gourgey, WIRED, "How Artificial Intelligence Could Prevent Natural Disasters," 10 July 2018 Sixty species of succulents and cactuses were planted, reflecting a young reef. Martina Schimitschek,, "At Scripps, a seascape landscape," 5 July 2018 Nopales are cactus: the big flat green paddles, without the thorns, of course. Polly Campbell,, "Cincy-Cinco will turn Cincinnati into Tacopolis to celebrate their quinceañera," 2 May 2018 Here towering cactus stand out majestically across the picture-perfect azure waters of the canal. Allie Almario, Town & Country, "How to Plan a Trip to the Galápagos Islands," 5 Oct. 2016

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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Last Updated

12 Nov 2018

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The first known use of cactus was in 1738

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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 \
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

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