• synonyms


  1. the dried root of a shrubby South American plant, Cephaelis ipecacuanha, of the madder family.
  2. the plant itself.
  3. a drug consisting of the dried roots of this plant, used as an emetic, purgative, etc., and as the source of emetine.
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Also ip·e·cac·u·an·ha [ip-i-kak-yoo-an-uh] /ˌɪp ɪˌkæk yuˈæn ə/.

Origin of ipecac

1780–90, Americanism; short for ipecacuanha < Portuguese < Tupi ipekaaguéne, equivalent to ipeh low + kaâ leaves + guéne vomit
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ipecac

Historical Examples

  • Just as soon as the child is able to swallow, give a teaspoon of syrup of ipecac.

    The Mother and Her Child

    William S. Sadler

  • A teaspoon of syrup of ipecac, repeated in fifteen minutes if necessary.

    The Mother and Her Child

    William S. Sadler

  • It went from one to another as if it had been a dish of ipecac.

    Eben Holden

    Irving Bacheller

  • It seems to effect a cure in dysentery in the same manner as ipecac.

  • Acid with the Ipecac, giving them in rotation, a dose every hour.

Word Origin and History for ipecac

1710, borrowing via Portuguese of a shortened form of Tupi ipecacuana (a word attested in English from 1682), a medicinal plant of Brazil. The Indian word is said to mean "small plant causing vomit."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

ipecac in Medicine


  1. A preparation that is made from the dried roots and rhizomes of the shrub Cephaelis ipecacuanha that is used to induce vomiting.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.