- the fragrant, black almond-shaped seed of a tall tree belonging to the genus Dipteryx (or Coumarouna), of the legume family, especially D. odorata, of tropical South America, used in perfumes, as a source of coumarin, and as a substitute for vanilla.
- the tree itself.
Origin of tonka bean
1790–1800; tonka probably < Tupi tõka
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for tonka bean
This flavoring is made from the tonka-bean, which contains a deadly poison.Searchlights on Health: Light on Dark Corners
- a tall leguminous tree, Coumarouna odorata, of tropical America, having fragrant black almond-shaped seeds
- the seeds of this tree, used in the manufacture of perfumes, snuff, etc
C18: probably from Tupi tonka