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Definition of "acanthus" []

  • Any of various perennial herbs or small shrubs of the genus Acanthus, native to the Mediterranean and having pinnately lobed basal leaves with spiny margins and showy spikes of white or purplish flowers. Also called bear's breech. (noun)
  • Architecture A design patterned after the leaves of one of these plants, used especially on the capitals of Corinthian columns. (noun)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Use "acanthus" in a sentence
  • "The Corinthian order is also very feminine in nature, characterised primarily by its ornate capitals, which sport two rows of sculpted acanthus leaves with small volutes spiral scrolls in the corners."
  • "Its columns are tall and slender, its capitals have bountiful acanthus leaves with big scrolls and its entablature sports an ostentatiously sculpted frieze and cornice."
  • "In private gardens acanthus and purple lavender grow ... but where, I wonder are the townspeople?"