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[si-truh-nel-uh] /ˌsɪ trəˈnɛl ə/
a fragrant grass, Cymbopogon nardus, of southern Asia, cultivated as the source of citronella oil.
1855-60; < New Latin < French citronelle, equivalent to citron citron + -elle diminutive suffix Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for citronella
  • The second compound was beta-citronellol, which is found in citronella and repels mosquitoes.
  • They have also tried both citronella spray and a shock collar, all to no avail.
  • Scatter candles made of natural beeswax or infused with citronella across tabletops for added light and ambience.
  • citronella collars give the dog a short burst of citronella near their nose.
British Dictionary definitions for citronella


Also called citronella grass. a tropical Asian grass, Cymbopogon (or Andropogon) nardus, with bluish-green lemon-scented leaves
Also called citronella oil. the yellow aromatic oil obtained from this grass, used in insect repellents, soaps, perfumes, etc
Word Origin
C19: New Latin, from French citronnelle lemon balm, from citron lemon
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
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Word Origin and History for citronella

1858 in reference to a type of fragrant grass, and especially to the oil it yields, from French citronelle "lemon liquor," from citron (see citrus). Originally an Asiatic grass used in perfumes, later applied to a substance found in lemon oil, etc.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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citronella in Science
The pale-yellow, lemon-scented oil obtained from the leaves of a tropical Asian grass (Cymbopogon nardus), used in insect repellents and perfumes. Citronella consists primarily of an aldehyde of octane.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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