One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Decorated with representations of acanthus leaves; resembling the leaves or branches of the acanthus.
Mid 18th century; earliest use found in Chambers's Cyclopaedia. From classical Latin acanthinus of bear's foot, (of leaves) resembling those of bear's foot, (of garments) of or made from some species of cotton plant, or its etymon ancient Greek ἀκάνθινος made of shittim wood, in Hellenistic Greek also made of thorns (New Testament), thorny, (of cloths) made of cotton thistle from ἄκανθος + -ινος.
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