- any of a genus (Quassia) of shrubs and trees of the quassia family
- the wood of either of two tropical trees (Picrasma excela or Quassia amara) of the quassia family, used in making furniture
- a bitter drug extracted from this wood, used in insecticides and, formerly, in medicine
Origin of quassiaModL, after Graman Quassi, black slave of Suriname who prescribed it for fever, c. 1730
designating a family (Simaroubaceae, order Sapindales) of tropical American dicotyledonous shrubs and trees having alternate pinnate leaves, including ailanthus
- a. A tropical American shrub or small tree (Quassia amara) having bright scarlet flowers and yielding a fine-grained, yellowish-white wood.b. The wood of this plant.
- 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.
Origin of quassiaNew 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.