AskDefine | Define acanthus

Dictionary Definition

acanthus n : any plant of the genus Acanthus having large spiny leaves and spikes or white or purplish flowers; native to Mediterranean region but widely cultivated [also: acanthi (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary



From acanthus < (akanthos) < (akē) "thorn" + (anthos) "flower"


  • /əˈkænθəs/


  1. A genus of herbaceous prickly plants with toothed leaves, (family Acanthaceae, order Scrophulariales) found in the south of Europe, Asia Minor, and India; includes bear's breech.
  2. An ornament resembling the foliage or leaves of the acanthus (Acanthus spinosus); — used in the capitals of the Corinthian and composite orders.



See also


  • Webster 1913}}




Extensive Definition

Acanthus (plural: acanthus, rarely acanthuses (English) or acanthi (Latin), or feminine form - acantha) is the Latinized form of the Greek Acanthos or Akanthos. It can also be used as the prefix Acantho-, meaning 'thorny'. It may refer to:


  • Acanthus (genus), in botany, is both a common name and a genus of flowering plant
  • Acantho, as a prefix, is used in botany for spiny-fruited (Acanthocarpous) or spiny-branched (Acanthocladous).
  • Acanthus (ornament), form in architecture and in leather carving derived from the acanthus plant.
  • The Acanthus is believed by some highly respected theological scholars to be the plant used by Roman soldiers to make the crown which was placed on the head of Jesus Christ when they mocked him by giving him a crown, scepter, and crown of Acanthus leaves. The Greek word for "thorn" and "acanthus" have the same genitive plural (akanthon), which is the word used in the Gospel of Matthew. As shown elsewhere here, the Acanthus is indigenous to the Mediterranean, and it was a iconic symbol of classical Greek architechture. Crowns during that time and region were made of wreaths or diadems.



  • Acanthus or Acantha was a Greek mythological figure (possibly a nymph) associated with the acanthus plant.
  • Acanthus (Spartan) was a Spartan athlete
  • 'Acanthus' was the pen-name of the cartoonist Dr Harold Frank Hoar


acanthus in Catalan: Acanthus
acanthus in German: Akanthus
acanthus in Spanish: Acanto (desambiguación)
acanthus in Dutch: Acanthus
acanthus in Romanian: Acanthus (dezambiguizare)
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