Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A tropical American shrub or small tree (Quassia amara) having bright scarlet flowers and yielding a fine-grained, yellowish-white wood.
  • noun The wood of this plant.
  • noun A bitter substance obtained from the wood of this plant or related plants in the family Simaroubaceae, used in medicine and formerly as an insecticide.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Any of several tropic trees, of the genus Quassia, having scarlet flowers
  • noun The bitter substance quassin extracted from its bark

Etymologies

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

[New Latin, after Gramman Quassi, (“Great Man” Kwasi), an 18th-century Guinean who, after being enslaved and transported to Suriname, became renowned as a healer, especially by prescribing quassia for fever, and whose success eventually allowed him to purchase his freedom.]

Examples

  • A slightly splenetic man, possessed of Scott’s sense, would have swept his premises clear of them: Let no blue bottle approach here, to disturb a man in his work, —under pain of sugared squash (called quassia) and king’s yellow!

    Paras. 50-73

  • By the simple process of spraying the plant three or four times a day, until it is out of the seed-leaf, and the danger is over, it is possible in the garden to wash out the = Haltica =; and any kind of insecticide or flavouring, such as quassia, may be mingled with the water to render the plants distasteful to the insects.

    The Culture of Vegetables and Flowers From Seeds and Roots 16th Edition

  • One third of a pint of quassia to which add a tablespoonful of rocksalt.

    Ulysses

  • She ripped open a plastic bag and grabbed the quassia chips.

    Night World No. 1

  • Now add quassia chips, blessed thistle, mandrake root.

    Night World No. 1

  • She ripped open a plastic bag and grabbed the quassia chips.

    Night World No. 1

  • Now add quassia chips, blessed thistle, mandrake root.

    Night World No. 1

  • When the quinine ran out they gave Sharpe quassia bark instead, but still the fever raged, and even the Navy's remedy, suggested by Lord Spears, which consisted of gunpowder mixed with brandy, did not work.

    Sharpe's Sword

  • When the quinine ran out they gave Sharpe quassia bark instead, but still the fever raged, and even the Navy's remedy, suggested by Lord Spears, which consisted of gunpowder mixed with brandy, did not work.

    Sharpe's Sword

  • Worms located in the posterior bowel may be removed by rectal injections of a weak water infusion of quassia chips.

    Common Diseases of Farm Animals

Comments

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  • A shrub or small tree of tropical America with showy red flowers; also called bitterwood. "Quassia" also describes the substance obtained from the heartwood of the tree that's used as an insecticide or as a tonic for intestinal worms.

    September 14, 2007

  • She kissed as though determined to be lost: a touch as bitter as quassia.

    - Aidan Higgins, In Old Heidelberg

    January 7, 2009

  • My father's aunt Hester ("Hessie" to the family) was this enormous mountain of a woman, waves of flesh would billow as she waddled. There was always a certain amount of nervousness, bordering on hysteria, among the smallest kids when she would go to sit down - she might squassia without ever realizing you were there, until late in the evening they would scrape your two-dimensional carcase off the couch.

    January 7, 2009