1. any plant, shrub, or tree belonging to the genus Cassia, of the legume family, having pinnate leaves and large clusters of flowers.
  2. any of various cathartic drugs consisting of the dried leaflets of certain of these plants, as one drug (Alexandrian senna) derived from C. acutifolia, or another (Tinnevelly senna) derived from C. angustifolia.
  3. wild senna.

Origin of senna

1535–45; < New Latin < Arabic sanā Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for senna

Contemporary Examples of senna

Historical Examples of senna

  • If the senna is distasteful a smaller quantity may be used at first.

    The Mother and Her Child

    William S. Sadler

  • Calomel three grains every third day, with infusion of senna.

    Zoonomia, Vol. II

    Erasmus Darwin

  • “Off with that old Senna T-pot,” said Burr major scornfully.

    Burr Junior

    G. Manville Fenn

  • Canoes having been procured, they reached Senna on the 27th.

  • When at Senna, in the Makololo country, a woman was seized by a crocodile.

    Stanley in Africa

    James P. Boyd

British Dictionary definitions for senna


  1. any of various tropical plants of the leguminous genus Cassia, esp C. angustifolia (Arabian senna) and C. acutifolia (Alexandrian senna), having typically yellow flowers and long pods
  2. senna leaf the dried leaflets of any of these plants, used as a cathartic and laxative
  3. senna pods the dried fruits of any of these plants, used as a cathartic and laxative
See also bladder senna

Word Origin for senna

C16: via New Latin from Arabic sanā


  1. Ayrton (ˈɛətən). 1960–94, Brazilian racing driver: world champion (1988, 1990, 1991)
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 senna

tropical shrub, 1540s, from Modern Latin senna, from Arabic sana. Earlier was sene (c.1400), from French.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper