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See also: Acanthus and -acanthus


Acanthus ornamentation on a capital.


From Latin acanthus, from Ancient Greek ἄκανθος (ákanthos), from ἀκή (akḗ, thorn) + ἄνθος (ánthos, flower).[1][2]



acanthus (plural acanthuses or acanthi)

  1. A member of the genus Acanthus of herbaceous prickly plants with toothed leaves, (family Acanthaceae, order Lamiales (formerly Scrophulariales)) found in the south of Europe, Asia Minor, and India. [from mid 16th century][2]
    Synonyms: bear's breech, bear's breeches, (rare) bear's-breech
    • 1834, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], Francesca Carrara. [], volume I, London: Richard Bentley, [], (successor to Henry Colburn), →OCLC:
      The picture before which they paused represented one of those ruined fountains so common to Italy. Francesca gazed upon it as if it had been an old friend: many a time, beside such a one, with its curved and broken marble, had she wreathed the acanthus that hung around it, the green and trailing foliage so profuse in the South, into shapes even more fanciful than those which once suggested the Corinthian capital.
  2. (architecture) An ornament resembling the foliage or leaves of Acanthus spinosus, used in the capitals of the Corinthian and composite orders. [from mid 18th century][2]
    • 1994 March, R Ousterhout, “Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture, an Annotated Bibliography and Historiography by W. Eugene Kleinbauer”, in Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, volume 53, number 1:
      It is difficult to imagine that Bernard of Clairvaux was gullible enough to accept dozens of historiated windows, grisaille fields of griffins, mosaic pavements, carved acanthus capitals, inhabited vine columns, and golden altarware on the strength of the justifications offered by a single window, one tympanum, and Suger's libelli


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Philip Babcock Gove (editor), Webster's Third International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (G. & C. Merriam Co., 1976 [1909], →ISBN)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Lesley Brown, editor-in-chief, William R. Trumble and Angus Stevenson, editors (2002), “acanthus”, in The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th edition, Oxford, New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN.



From Ancient Greek ἄκανθος (ákanthos), from ἀκή (akḗ, thorn) + ἄνθος (ánthos, flower).



acanthus m (genitive acanthī); second declension

  1. A plant known as bear's-foot (Helleborus foetidus).
  2. A thorny evergreen tree.


Second-declension noun.

Case Singular Plural
Nominative acanthus acanthī
Genitive acanthī acanthōrum
Dative acanthō acanthīs
Accusative acanthum acanthōs
Ablative acanthō acanthīs
Vocative acanthe acanthī



  • acanthus”, in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • acanthus”, in The Perseus Project (1999) Perseus Encyclopedia[1]
  • acanthus”, in Harry Thurston Peck, editor (1898), Harper's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • acanthus”, in William Smith, editor (1848), A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London: John Murray
  • acanthus”, in William Smith, editor (1854, 1857), A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, volume 1 & 2, London: Walton and Maberly