[kwosh-uh, -ee-uh]
  1. a shrub or small tree, Quassia amara, of tropical America, having pinnate leaves, showy red flowers, and wood with a bitter taste.Compare quassia family.
  2. any of several other trees having bitter-tasting wood.
  3. Also called bitterwood. Chemistry, Pharmacology. a prepared form of the heartwood of any of these trees, used as an insecticide and in medicine as a tonic to dispel intestinal worms.

Origin of quassia

1755–65; < New Latin, named after Quassi, 18th-century slave in Dutch Guiana who discovered its medicinal properties; see -ia
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for quassia

Historical Examples of quassia

British Dictionary definitions for quassia


  1. any tree of the tropical American simaroubaceous genus Quassia, having bitter bark and wood
  2. the bark and wood of Quassia amara and of a related tree, Picrasma excelsa, used in furniture making
  3. a bitter compound extracted from this bark and wood, formerly used as a tonic and anthelmintic, now used in insecticides

Word Origin for quassia

C18: from New Latin, named after Graman Quassi, a slave who discovered (1730) the medicinal value of the root
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