Definition of cactus in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkaktəs/

noun (plural cacti /ˈkaktʌɪ/ or cactuses)

A succulent plant with a thick fleshy stem which typically bears spines, lacks leaves, and has brilliantly coloured flowers. Cacti are native to arid regions of the New World and are cultivated elsewhere, especially as pot plants.
  • Family Cactaceae: numerous genera and species.
Example sentences
  • We are rich with saguaros, prickly pear, and cholla cacti, and paloverde, and mesquite trees.
  • Prickly pear cacti and large agave succulents, introduced from Mexico, grow everywhere in the north of the island.
  • Scaling and barking injuries occur on stem surfaces of saguaro cacti.


in the cactus

Australian /NZ informal In difficulty or trouble: he had promised to fetch Bobby by six; it was now close to midnight and he’s in the cactus
More example sentences
  • She has very kindly given me a small wad of bills and I am no longer in the cactus.
  • The only certainty is uncertainty and we are in the cactus if things really turn to custard in Europe and the US.
  • Fine hold him for the police but throw him in the cactus you just got your boss a lawsuit.



Pronunciation: /kakˈteɪʃəs/
Example sentences
  • Named in honor of the French scholar Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc, the genus Pereskia boasts the unique characteristic of being one of the few cactaceous genera to bear true leaves.
  • The most common of these is E. canariensis with the classic cactaceous habit.
  • If you wish to camp, hike or simply to spend a day afield between encino forests and pine and cactaceous scrubs, you may see some deer, wild burro, pumas, cats, coyotes, bald eagles and a diverse selection of snakes.


Early 17th century (in the sense 'cardoon'): from Latin, from Greek kaktos 'cardoon'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: cac¦tus

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