Definition of derris in English:


Line breaks: der¦ris
Pronunciation: /ˈdɛrɪs


  • 1 [mass noun] An insecticide containing rotenone, made from the powdered roots of certain tropical plants.
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    • This consisted of picking off the mature caterpillars and feeding them to the hens, and a liberal application of derris powder.
    • Jam laced with derris, camphor, citronella or pepper also makes an effective bait.
    • Second, spray the tree with derris, which is widely available, when roughly half the flower petals have fallen.
  • 2A woody climbing plant of the pea family, which has tuberous roots from which the insecticide derris is obtained.
    • Genus Derris, family Leguminosae
    More example sentences
    • By the mid 1800s, the heads of chrysanthemum flowers were used to obtain pyrethrum, and rotenone was extracted from the derris plant.
    • The insecticidal properties of Derris roots were first discovered in 1848 and the plant was first used against the nutmeg caterpillar.
    • For rotenone is no post-war insect killer cooked up in a corporate lab, but a natural product, extracted from the derris plant, and a mainstay of organic farms and gardens.


mid 19th century (in sense 2): modern Latin (genus name), from Greek, 'leather covering' (referring to the plant's leathery pods).

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