[pen-ee-roi-uh l]
  1. 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.
  2. Also called mock pennyroyal. a similar, related plant, Hedeoma pulegioides, of eastern North America, having bluish flowers growing from the leaf axils.
  3. 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. 2018

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


  1. a Eurasian plant, Mentha pulegium, with hairy leaves and small mauve flowers, that yields an aromatic oil used in medicine: family Lamiaceae (labiates)
  2. 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