from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of various succulent, spiny, usually leafless plants native mostly to arid regions of the New World, having variously colored, often showy flowers with numerous stamens and petals.
  • n. Any of several similar plants.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any member of the family Cactaceae, a family of flowering New World succulent plants suited to a hot, semi-desert climate.
  • n. Any succulent plant with a thick fleshy stem bearing spines but no leaves, including euphorbs.
  • adj. Non-functional, broken, exhausted.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any plant of the order Cactacæ, as the prickly pear and the night-blooming cereus. See cereus. They usually have leafless stems and branches, often beset with clustered thorns, and are mostly natives of the warmer parts of America.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The old and Linnean name for the group of plants, considered a single genus, which now form the order Cactaceæ.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. any succulent plant of the family Cactaceae native chiefly to arid regions of the New World and usually having spines


Latin, cardoon, from Greek kaktos.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Latin cactus, from Ancient Greek κάκτος (kaktos, "cardoon"). (Wiktionary)



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  • Australian slang for dead.

    "Dolly saw it was his right hand. His bloody working hand. A man could hardly pick his nose with a thumb and half a pointer. They were done for; stuffed, cactus."
    Cloudstreet by Tim Winton, p 15 of the Graywolf Press hardcover edition

    March 25, 2010