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
- ‘It has been isolated from soils in desert areas, grassland or cultivated soils, cacti, onion, and garlic bulbs.’
- ‘They resembled a cross between a cactus and an aloe vera plant; thick and fleshy, with hairs extruding from their tendrils.’
- ‘Scaling and barking injuries occur on stem surfaces of saguaro cacti.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Good weather is also an essential pre-requisite for the growth of cacti and succulent plants.’
- ‘Second, the cactus and acacia trees may have dissimilar distributions of branch length.’
- ‘It looked somehow like the surface of a cactus, the peyote cactus.’
- ‘Orchid, African violet and cactus are just a few of the special mixes available.’
- ‘However, thorns on cactuses are a different thing.’
- ‘The boyfriend bought a big cactus yesterday to add in with the banana plants etc.’
- ‘Like the cactuses it resembles, an aloe plant requires little care and grows quickly.’
- ‘He finally got his cactus home, planted it in his backyard, and over time it grew to about two metres.’
- ‘Remember, for starters, that all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti.’
- ‘Aloe vera resembles a cactus, but is actually a perennial succulent which belongs to the lily family.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Prickly pear cacti and large agave succulents, introduced from Mexico, grow everywhere in the north of the island.’
- ‘It searches among the yucca cactuses and Joshua trees for a lonely radar station atop a mountain peak.’
- ‘We are rich with saguaros, prickly pear, and cholla cacti, and paloverde, and mesquite trees.’
- ‘The northeast is much more barren - there are more cactuses than palm trees in this semidesert.’
- ‘Tall palm trees and thick forests of cactuses give travellers the impression that they are staying in a tropical region.’
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’
- ‘"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.’
- ‘Fine hold him for the police but throw him in the cactus you just got your boss a lawsuit.’
- ‘He turned on his heel and walked out saying, "I'm in the cactus again."’
Early 17th century (in the sense ‘cardoon’): from Latin, from Greek kaktos ‘cardoon’.
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