cac·​tus | \ ˈkak-təs How to pronounce cactus (audio) \
plural cacti\ ˈkak-​ˌtī How to pronounce cacti (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 Pot up aloe pups in cactus soil mix in small containers and put them indoors in sunny windows. Thad Orr, Sunset Magazine, "Your Essential Winter Gardening To-Do List," 10 Feb. 2020 The plants were tamed when authorities introduced a foreign cactus gourmet, the cactoblastis moth, in 1925. Sarah Lazarus, CNN, "Can tech save the kakapo, New Zealand's 'gorgeous, hilarious' parrot?," 26 Dec. 2019 This coaster cactus contains six pieces made of non-toxic molded cork. Popular Science, "Delightful drink coasters that protect your furniture and show off your sense of style," 16 Jan. 2020 Poppies, penstemons, marigolds, and cactus blooms are but a few of the florals popping this time of year. Kate Wertheimer, Sunset Magazine, "National Parks Will Be Free These Five Days in 2020–Here’s Where to Go When," 8 Jan. 2020 Clouds: The background of the image, which is reportedly made of cactus fiber, suggests the Virgin Mary is descended from heaven. 2. Laura Rodríguez,, "Why 200,000 people travel each December on foot, by horse and even semitruck to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines," 11 Dec. 2019 This night-blooming cactus rarely blooms, only a handful of times a year, after sunset, with its flowers wilting before first light. National Geographic, "Will birds go the way of the dinosaurs?," 30 Oct. 2019 Italian design and architecture have influenced the rest of the world for centuries: see the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, and Guido Drocco and Franco Mello’s avant-garde 1960s-era cactus coat rack. Jennifer Fernandez, House Beautiful, "This 3D-Printed House in Italy Might Just Be the Future of Design," 29 Oct. 2019 The cactus tree is available in five-foot, six-foot, and seven-foot versions, with the first two listed at $89.99 and the third listed at $99.99. Perri Ormont Blumberg, Southern Living, "We're Totally Obsessed with This Cactus Christmas Tree on Amazon," 22 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for cactus

Time Traveler

The first known use of cactus was in 1738

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Statistics for cactus

Last Updated

19 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cactus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for cactus


How to pronounce cactus (audio)

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

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cactus

Spanish Central: Translation of cactus

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

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