[pen-ee-roi-uh l]


an aromatic Old World plant, Mentha pulegium, of the mint family, having clusters of small purple flowers and yielding a pungent essential oil used medicinally and as an insect repellent.
Also called mock pennyroyal. a similar, related plant, Hedeoma pulegioides, of eastern North America, having bluish flowers growing from the leaf axils.
any of several other aromatic plants of the mint family.

Origin of pennyroyal

1520–30; penny + royal; replacing late Middle English puliol real < Anglo-French; Middle French poliol (< Latin *pūlēgiōlum, diminutive of pūlēgium pennyroyal) + real, earlier form of royal Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pennyroyal

Contemporary Examples of pennyroyal

Historical Examples of pennyroyal

  • Some of the provident produced bottles of oil of pennyroyal.

    The Rock of Chickamauga

    Joseph A. Altsheler

  • I told her to bring me some pennyroyal along from the field next the quarry.


    Anna Balmer Myers

  • Aunt Maria told me you were here—she is impatient for her pennyroyal.


    Anna Balmer Myers

  • It was a sunny little room, with a pleasant smell of pennyroyal about it.

    Hildegarde's Holiday

    Laura E. Richards

  • If more convenient, sprinkle the bedding with oil or essence of pennyroyal.

British Dictionary definitions for pennyroyal



a Eurasian plant, Mentha pulegium, with hairy leaves and small mauve flowers, that yields an aromatic oil used in medicine: family Lamiaceae (labiates)
Also called: mock pennyroyal a similar and related plant, Hedeoma pulegioides, of E North America

Word Origin for pennyroyal

C16: variant of Anglo-Norman puliol real, from Old French pouliol (from Latin pūleium pennyroyal) + real royal
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for pennyroyal

herb, 1520s, alteration by folk etymology of Anglo-French puliol real; for second element see royal; first element ultimately from Latin puleium "thyme," of unknown origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper