One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Of the nature of an acanthus; (in later use) specifically belonging to or characteristic of the family Acanthaceae, comprising chiefly tropical shrubs and vines and having the genus Acanthus as the type genus.
Mid 18th century; earliest use found in Ephraim Chambers (?1680–1740), encyclopaedist. From post-classical Latin acanthaceus + -ous.
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