: any of a large genus (Opuntia) of American cacti with usually yellow flowers and flat or cylindrical jointed stem segments typically studded with tubercles bearing spines or prickly hairs compare cholla, prickly pear

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Many cacti, ranging from globulars to opuntias, some which are native to the Northwest and others from as far away as South America and Asia, are actually hardy here and take a minimal amount of care, which is a nice plus. oregonlive, 5 June 2020 At the start of the 1900s, an area of over 40,000 square kilometers in Australia was affected by opuntia, before it was controlled with bugs. Stephanie Bailey, CNN, 9 Dec. 2019 Choices include euphorbia resinifera for acropora (also known as staghorn coral); opuntia microdasys monstrose for turbinaria; deuterocohnia brevifolia for galaxea; and mammillaria pilcayensis (bristle brush cactus) for dendrogyra or pillar coral. Martina Schimitschek, sandiegouniontribune.com, 5 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'opuntia.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Latin, a plant, from feminine of opuntius of Opus, from Opunt-, Opus Opus, ancient city in Greece

First Known Use

1601, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of opuntia was in 1601

Dictionary Entries Near opuntia

Cite this Entry

“Opuntia.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/opuntia. Accessed 9 Dec. 2022.

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