sa·​gua·​ro | \ sə-ˈwär-ə How to pronounce saguaro (audio) , -ˈgwär-, How to pronounce saguaro (audio) \
plural saguaros

Definition of saguaro

: a tall columnar usually sparsely-branched cactus (Carnegiea gigantea) of dry areas of the southwestern U.S. and Mexico that bears white flowers and a scaly reddish edible fruit and that may attain a height of up to 50 feet (16 meters)

called also giant cactus

Illustration of saguaro

Illustration of saguaro

Did you know?

Venture into the Arizonan desert on a May or June morning and you may see the saguaro in bloom. For many of our readers (such as those living in Arizona and southeastern California), this sight - and the word saguaro - won't be anything new. Or perhaps you know this emblem of all things Southwestern simply as the "giant cactus." The word saguaro originated in Ópata, a language spoken by peoples of the Sonoran Desert region of Mexico. It came into English by way of the Spanish spoken by the Mexican settlers of the American West. The very saguaros we see today may well have been around when the word was first noted, some 150 years ago - this amazing cactus can live for up to 200 years.

Examples of saguaro in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The cactus garden was another treat, showcasing the striking and unexpected variety in a desert landscape, from totem pole cactus, creeping devil, prickly pear, and of course, the king of the desert, the saguaro. Susan Glaser, cleveland, 24 Mar. 2022 As both a symbol of the desert Southwest and a keystone species that provides shade, nesting sites, and water for numerous plants and animals, the saguaro is now running up against the gauntlet of climate change. Jon Waterman, Outside Online, 15 June 2020 There’s a short climb from the creek to a meadow lined with mesquite and saguaro, framed by a dramatic backdrop of mountain vistas. Roger Naylor, The Arizona Republic, 18 Jan. 2022 The saguaro, which only grows in the Sonoran Desert, is the park’s real show-stopper, reaching heights of 50 feet or more and living to 150 years old. Susan Glaser, cleveland, 24 Mar. 2022 The second half of the trail follows the stream lined by sycamore, oak and hackberry, with big saguaro ambling down the slope as if pondering a swim. Roger Naylor, The Arizona Republic, 18 Jan. 2022 Rising temperatures, along with more frequent — and hotter — wildfires, are curbing the growth of new saguaro. New York Times, 27 Dec. 2021 After a short traipse through sunny rangeland, the route makes a mild uphill climb to where views of distant mountain ranges and peaks appear over acres of paloverde trees and enormous saguaro cactuses. Mare Czinar, The Arizona Republic, 28 Oct. 2021 Outside, lawn games and a small dance floor split up tables set between a saguaro wrapped in rainbow lights and a sparkling unicorn. Tirion Morris, The Arizona Republic, 19 Sep. 2017 See More

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

First Known Use of saguaro

1856, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for saguaro

Mexican Spanish, probably from Ópata (Uto-Aztecan language of Sonora, Mexico)

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The first known use of saguaro was in 1856

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Dictionary Entries Near saguaro



Saguaro National Park

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Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Saguaro.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for saguaro


sa·​gua·​ro | \ sə-ˈwär-ə How to pronounce saguaro (audio) , -ˈwär-ō, -ˈgwär-ō \
plural saguaros

Kids Definition of saguaro

: a giant cactus of the southwestern United States and Mexico

More from Merriam-Webster on saguaro Encyclopedia article about saguaro


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