One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
nounPlural cacti, Plural 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
- ‘They resembled a cross between a cactus and an aloe vera plant; thick and fleshy, with hairs extruding from their tendrils.’
- ‘Prickly pear cacti and large agave succulents, introduced from Mexico, grow everywhere in the north of the island.’
- ‘It looked somehow like the surface of a cactus, the peyote cactus.’
- ‘The man-made structures are concealed by imaginative landscaping that includes coconut palms, hibiscus, cactuses, hammocks, bougainvillea, gardens and lawns opening to beach and sea.’
- ‘We are rich with saguaros, prickly pear, and cholla cacti, and paloverde, and mesquite trees.’
- ‘It has been isolated from soils in desert areas, grassland or cultivated soils, cacti, onion, and garlic bulbs.’
- ‘It has several gnarled trees, cactuses, oleanders, a crazy arrangement of pot plants, various graveside paraphernalia such as urns and framed photographs, and a rickety set of narrow pathways.’
- ‘The northeast is much more barren - there are more cactuses than palm trees in this semidesert.’
- ‘Scaling and barking injuries occur on stem surfaces of saguaro cacti.’
- ‘The boyfriend bought a big cactus yesterday to add in with the banana plants etc.’
- ‘It searches among the yucca cactuses and Joshua trees for a lonely radar station atop a mountain peak.’
- ‘However, thorns on cactuses are a different thing.’
- ‘Tall palm trees and thick forests of cactuses give travellers the impression that they are staying in a tropical region.’
- ‘He finally got his cactus home, planted it in his backyard, and over time it grew to about two metres.’
- ‘Second, the cactus and acacia trees may have dissimilar distributions of branch length.’
- ‘Good weather is also an essential pre-requisite for the growth of cacti and succulent plants.’
- ‘Aloe vera resembles a cactus, but is actually a perennial succulent which belongs to the lily family.’
- ‘Like the cactuses it resembles, an aloe plant requires little care and grows quickly.’
- ‘Orchid, African violet and cactus are just a few of the special mixes available.’
- ‘Remember, for starters, that all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti.’
in the cactus
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’
- ‘He turned on his heel and walked out saying, "I'm in the cactus again."’
- ‘Fine hold him for the police but throw him in the cactus you just got your boss a lawsuit.’
- ‘"Victor, you've put us all in the cactus; thanks a bloody million!"’
- ‘The only certainty is uncertainty and we are in the cactus if things really turn to custard in Europe and the US.’
- ‘She has very kindly given me a small wad of bills and I am no longer in the cactus.’
Early 17th century (in the sense ‘cardoon’): from Latin, from Greek kaktos ‘cardoon’.
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