type of tall herb or shrub native to the Mediterranean regions, 1660s, from Latin acanthus, name of the plant, from Greek akanthos, from ake "point, thorn" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce") + anthos "flower" (see anther). So called for its large spiny leaves. A conventionalized form of the leaf is used in Corinthian capitals. Related: Acanthaceous.
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