no·​pal nō-ˈpäl How to pronounce nopal (audio) -ˈpal How to pronounce nopal (audio)
plural nopals or nopales nō-ˈpä-lās How to pronounce nopal (audio)
: any of a genus (Nopalea) of cacti of Mexico and Central America that differ from the prickly pears in having erect petals and scarlet flowers with the stamens much longer than the petals
broadly : prickly pear
: a fleshy young tender stem segment of the prickly pear cactus (especially Opuntia ficus-indica) or the nopal cactus used as food

Examples of nopal in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Moreover, the nopal is rich in essential amino acids that cut down water weight (2). Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 3 Apr. 2024 Oils are extracted from the seeds of the nopal’s fruit, then blended with natural butters and lemongrass oil, as well as cactus fibers that purify and exfoliate skin. Ella Riley-Adams Angela Koh Jameson Montgomery Jameson Montgomery Tom Delavan, New York Times, 16 Nov. 2023 That is the sign of the insects working beneath, drawing nourishment from the juices of the nopal and protecting themselves with the waxy powder. Fernanda Pesce,, 2 Sep. 2023 Her work centers around the cactus or nopal, which has deep cultural significance as a symbol of hope and endurance that is depicted on the Mexican flag and is part of the origin story of Aztec culture. Dallas News, 14 Oct. 2022 That is the true taste of tuna, the fruit of the nopal. Minerva Orduño Rincón, The Arizona Republic, 8 Sep. 2022 Here, the Saporito family, hailing from Tabasco, Mexico, presses out a rainbow of seven different types of corn tortillas doctored up with homemade flavoring mixes—magenta beetroot, fiery orange guajillo, green nopal. The Bon Appétit Staff & Contributors, Bon Appétit, 8 Sep. 2022 Nopales soaked in unaged whiskey form the base for a lime cocktail that’s simultaneously light from the lime and nopal, and substantial from the whiskey. Dakota Kim, Sunset, 22 Jan. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'nopal.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Spanish, from Nahuatl nohpalli

First Known Use

1578, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of nopal was in 1578

Dictionary Entries Near nopal

Cite this Entry

“Nopal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2024.

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