Acanthous – Definition & Meaning

Acanthous is a term that is not commonly used in everyday language but is often found in scientific and medical contexts. It is a word that describes something that is spiny or thorny in nature. In this article, we will explore the definition and meaning of acanthous, its origins, and its associations.


The word acanthous is an adjective that describes something that has spines or thorns, or is shaped like a spine or thorn. It can also refer to something that is adorned with spines or thorns.


The word acanthous comes from the Greek word “akantha,” which means thorn or spine. It has been used in English since the mid-19th century.

Meaning in different dictionaries

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, acanthous means “spiny, thorny, or prickly.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “having spines or thorns, or resembling a spine or thorn.”


Acanthous is often associated with plants and animals that have spines or thorns, such as cacti, porcupines, and sea urchins. It can also be used to describe architectural elements that are decorated with spines or thorns, such as the acanthus leaf motif found in classical Greek and Roman architecture.


Some synonyms for acanthous include spiny, thorny, prickly, bristly, and spinous.


Antonyms for acanthous include smooth, soft, and unadorned.

The same root words

The root word of acanthous is “akantha,” which is the Greek word for thorn or spine. Other words that share this root include acanthine (meaning spiny or thorny), acanthocephalan (a type of parasitic worm with spiny heads), and acanthocyte (a type of red blood cell with spiky projections).

Example Sentences

  1. The cactus was covered in acanthous spines that made it difficult to handle.
  2. The acanthous leaves on the Corinthian column added a decorative touch to the ancient Greek temple.
  3. The porcupine’s acanthous quills served as a defense mechanism against predators.
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