Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A tree or shrub (Lawsonia inermis) of the Middle East, having fragrant white or reddish flowers.
  • n. A reddish-orange dyestuff prepared from the dried and ground leaves of this plant, used as a cosmetic dye and for coloring leather and fabrics.
  • n. A moderate or strong reddish brown to strong brown.
  • transitive v. To dye (hair, for example) with henna.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A shrub, Lawsonia inernis, having fragrant reddish flowers
  • n. A reddish plant substance, prepared from the dried leaves of this plant, used for temporary tattoos and hair coloring. Hair colorings range from bright red to earth brown to near black.
  • n. A rich reddish-brown colour.
  • adj. Of a rich reddish-brown colour.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A thorny tree or shrub of the genus Lawsonia (Lawsonia alba). The fragrant white blossoms are used by the Buddhists in religious ceremonies. The powdered leaves furnish a red coloring matter used in the East to stain the nails and fingers, the manes of horses, etc.
  • n. The leaves of the henna plant, or a preparation or dyestuff made from them.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The Egyptian privet or flower of Paradise, Lawsonia inermis, of the natural order Lythrarieœ, a shrub bearing opposite entire leaves and numerous small and fragrant white flowers.
  • n. A paste made from the leaves of this plant by mixture with catechu, used in the East by women to stain their nails, finger-tips, and eyelids. and by men to dye their beards.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. apply henna to one's hair
  • n. a reddish brown dye used especially on hair

Etymologies

Arabic ḥinnā'; akin to ḥana'a, to become green.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Arabic حِنّاء (ḥinnāʾ), the name of the tree used to make the dye, probably from Persian. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The term henna tattoo is inaccurate, because tattoos are defined as permanent surgical insertion of pigments underneath the skin, as opposed to pigments resting on the surface.

    Color + Design Blog by COLOURlovers / Feed

  • A full-fledged carnival surrounds the Gate, as India's myriad hustling needy animate the place by crying out their wares and attempt to peddle almost everything from peanuts to post cards, crispy pappadoms to cotton candy, hand tattooing in henna, toy bicycles made from single twists of wire, and mechanical birds.

    City Walk: New Delhi

  • Three days before the marriage ceremony henna is applied to the nails of the hands and feet, and also to the palms of the hands, and the hair is cut short over the forehead, something in the style of a "Gainsborough fringe."

    The Golden Chersonese and the Way Thither

  • Mehndi decorations became fashionable in the West in the late 1990s, where they are sometimes called henna tattoos.

    Color + Design Blog by COLOURlovers / Feed

  • The henna is supposed to render them black, but I’m too impatient and didn’t want to walk around with henna and plastic bags on my hands for hours while it dried, so I came out with a semi-ridiculous carrot look.

    Archive 2009-09-01

  • That is a photo shuttergal took of me, as the henna was her birthday present, and I adore it.

    Birthday

  • It's adulterated "black" or "blue" henna, which is often mixed up not following FDA regulations and can cause a severe allergic reaction that produces a lifetime hyper-sensitivity to many substances, including antibiotics and analgesics no epidurals for women with this sensitivity!

    Allergen Warning

  • The night before a girl gets married here in Egypt is called the henna night, where basically a the bride and the female members of the family get a bunch of henna and the the family has a big party.

    TravelPod.com TravelStream™ — Recent Entries at TravelPod.com

  • They continue to celebrate weddings, births, and many other occasions; henna, which is used for beautification during times of celebration, adorned the hands and feet of many women.

    Doctors Without Borders

  • The orange is actually dyed substance called henna, a natural dyestuff, which needs to be applied periodically in order to maintain its lustrous colour.

    Elections - fresh news by plazoo.com

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