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 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 Skeletal, charred trees and cactus fried to a crisp teeter creepily over scorched earth backed by distant views of Weavers Needle in the Superstition Wilderness and Four Peaks in the Mazatzal Mountains. Mare Czinar, The Arizona Republic, "Sears Fire scorched part of this AZ hike, but its beauty remains. Here's how to do it," 8 Dec. 2020 Wear two pairs of gloves when working with this plant or heavy duty cactus gloves. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Garden Mastery: Some beautiful plants should be handled with care," 14 Nov. 2020 On a September afternoon, at the confluence of two streams that flow to the salt flat, Muñoz Coca shepherded sheep and goats in a landscape of cactus and shrubs. Ian Morse, Quartz, "Chile’s new constitution could rewrite the story of lithium mining," 22 Dec. 2020 The Northwest Military side is more hardscrabble, with lots of cactus; the Blanco side is more densely forested. Deborah Martin,, "Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge at Hardberger Park opens Friday, but the party will have to wait," 10 Dec. 2020 Keep cactus and agaves far from walkways, where someone can get poked, and stay away from groundcover that is not easily navigated with wheelchairs and walkers, such as wood chips, pea gravel and gorilla hair compost. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Demo shows how inclusive guidelines make gardening more accessible," 12 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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Last Updated

11 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cactus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 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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