American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. 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.
- n. Architecture A design patterned after the leaves of one of these plants, used especially on the capitals of Corinthian columns.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. In botany, a genus of tall herbaceous plants of southern Europe and Africa, natural order Acanthaceæ. They have large spinosely toothed leaves, and are sometimes cultivated for the sake of their beautiful foliage.
- n. [lowercase] The common name of plants of this genus. In zoology, a genus of crustaceans. [lowercase] In architecture, a characteristic ornament derived from or resembling the conventionalized foliage or leaves of the acanthus, used in capitals of the Corinthian and Composite orders, and in Roman, Byzantine, medieval, and Renaissance architecture generally, as upon friezes, cornices, modillions, etc.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. (Bot.) A genus of herbaceous prickly plants, found in the south of Europe, Asia Minor, and India; bear's-breech.
- n. (Arch.) An ornament resembling the foliage or leaves of the acanthus (Acanthus spinosus); -- used in the capitals of the Corinthian and Composite orders.
- 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
- New Latin Acanthus, genus name, from Greek akanthos, thorn plant, from akantha, thorn. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“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?”
“On the south side, a large acanthus medallion sprouts amid a field of stone rosettes, as delicate as on the day they were first chiseled.”
“Stern-faced caryatids with gilded wings support card tables, above legs carved as muscular lions' paws; gilded acanthus leaves curl around the pillars of center tables and sideboards.”
“Perhaps the most alarming decay has beset the capitals, blocks of marble carved into swirling patterns of acanthus leaves.”
“It has the same growth habits and culture requirements as a traditional acanthus — part sun/shade with rich, well-drained, soil — but the blooms are a stunning, sparkly white.”
“Designed by landscape gardener Patrick Charoy, director of the town's nature, cities and gardens department, and opened in 2002, the tour can be followed year-round with a free map from the tourist office on Place Fran ois Mitterrand or by looking out for the trail of bronze acanthus leaves set in the pavement”
“In private gardens acanthus and purple lavender grow... but where, I wonder are the townspeople?”
“He brought me exotic acanthus, its flowery gray and white "tail" trailing from a plastic sac ...”
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