Difference Between Cacti vs. Cactuses

Main Difference

The main difference between cacti and cactuses is that cacti are the members of a family of spiny plants. Cacti is plural of cactus and cactuses is the same plant and an alternative of cacti.

Cacti vs. Cactuses

Cacti and cactus refer to members of a family of spiny plants. Cacti is a Latin word. It is plural of cactus. Some writers use it in English. Cactuses are the English word and are an alternative of cacti. In the Dictionaries, both words are correct. Sometimes, cactus is also treated as plural. In formal (scientific) writing, cacti might be a better choice, as this form is more common in written English. In informal writing, you can rely on your judgment and use the version (cacti or cactus) that seems more natural. The prevalence of the Latin cacti is attributed to the influence of Latin on the biological nomenclature. These Latin plurals are used in botany and other scientific fields. Some make their way into broader usage. Cactus is a Latin-derived English word that ends in –us. (conventionally pluralized in the English manner). It is a matter of preference. Though, the use word of word cacti is not wrong. Cacti has the edge. both cacti and cactuses are common in current news publications and blogs from the English speaking world for example: “For days, he trekked through desert plains dotted with cacti as vultures circled above his head.” [Newsday], “Text-book cactuses flank the picturesque 449-yard, par-four 14th.” [BBC] Cacti and cactuses are the alternative forms of a plural noun. Both these forms are correct, but cacti are more common in formal and published writing. “cacti” is more often used in the US.

Comparison Chart

CactiCactuses
The members of a family of spiny plantsThe members of a family of spiny plants and the same plant and an alternative of cacti
Context
FormalInformal
Word
PluralAlternative word
Examples
“For days, he trekked through desert plains dotted with cacti as vultures circled above his head.” [Newsday]“Text-book cactuses flank the picturesque 449-yard, par-four 14th.” [BBC]

What is Cacti?

Cacti refer to members of a family of spiny plants. The word cacti is a noun. It is the plural form of cactus (Cacti that are famous for having sharp spines). Cacti are the strange plants with thick, fleshy stems that contain sharp spines. They are in the majority in the southwestern United States. This plant is native to the Americas. Cacti are also called cactus. It is common in many parts of America, including Canada, Mexico, and Argentina. Cacti grow wild in the deserts of the western United States. Cacti have a unique and beautiful look, so they are cultivated as decorative indoor and outdoor plants in homes and parks. Saguaro cacti are the types that are familiar with imagery in the Western film genre. They are instantly recognizable here by their stark silhouettes and sharp spines. Cacti can survive extreme conditions by storing water in their stems for extended periods. That is the reason that cacti are the plants that are seen in deserts. The -I for -us plural is common in Latin. Since the scientific names of plants are usually related to Latin, cacti became widespread in English.

Examples of Cacti in Sentences

  • Botanists discovered over 1750 distinct species of cacti that range from one centimeter to nearly 20 meters tall.
  • She decorated her apartment with tiny cacti, which gave it a southwestern aesthetic.
  • “Ringed by cacti and red-rock buttes and canyons, the town looks like it once was the set of every shoot ’em up cowboy movie.” [National Post]

What is Cactuses?

Cactuses are also a member of a family of spiny plants. It is an alternative spelling of the plural noun cacti. Bryan Garner suggested in 2016 that both variants are accepted. Cactuses are informal and not used in formal writings like scientific writings. It is more common in ordinary usage and speech and, while cacti are favored in print sources and scientific uses. However, the other variant cacti are preferred in print. The word cactus has its origin from a Greek word, and it came to the English language through Latin. Cactuses are the strange plants with thick, fleshy stems, that contain sharp spines. They are in the majority in the southwestern United States. This plant is native to the Americas. Cactuses are common in many parts of America, including Canada, Mexico, and Argentina. Cacti grow wild in the deserts of the western United States. They have a unique and beautiful look, so they are cultivated as decorative indoor and outdoor plants in homes and parks. Cactus is a Latin-derived English word that ends in –us. (conventionally pluralized in the English manner). It is a matter of preference. Cactuses generally have few or no leaves. They are distinguished from the rest of the succulents by their rounded indentations along the stems. These rounded indentations are modified buds called “areoles.” the spines usually spring from the areoles.

Examples of Cactuses in Sentences

  • “But near the visitor center, which was dug into the earth, irrigated areas coaxed succulent blooms from cactuses.” [Minneapolis Star Tribune]
  • “Text-book cactuses flank the picturesque 449-yard, par-four 14th.” [BBC]
  • John decorated his gallery with tiny cacti, which gave it a southwestern aesthetic.

Key Differences

  1. Cacti are the members of a family of spiny plants. It is the plural of cactus whereas cactuses are the same plant and an alternative of cacti.
  2. Cacti is a Latin word on the flip side; cactuses are the English word.
  3. The word cacti have common use in formal like scientific writings conversely the word cactuses is not used in formal writings.
  4. Cacti is the plural and correct way of saying cactuses while cactuses is an informal way of referring to that specific plant.
  5. Cacti have rounded indentations along their stems on the other hand cactuses generally have few or no leaves.

Conclusion

They are interchangeable and are used in sentences the same, so you can choose which you prefer.

Author:

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

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