Definition of cinchona in US English:



  • 1An evergreen South American tree or shrub of the bedstraw family, with fragrant flowers and cultivated for its bark.

    Genus Cinchona, family Rubiaceae: several species

    • ‘In the mid-seventeenth century, Spain began to import the bitter bark of cinchona trees from Peru and Ecuador as an antidote for malaria.’
    • ‘And for those unfamiliar with the Peruvian national emblem, it depicts a vicuna, a horn of plenty and a cinchona tree.’
    • ‘There are still cinchona trees in the area, though modern medicine has rendered them useless.’
    • ‘Malaria victims were treated with quinine, an extract from the bark of the cinchona tree.’
    • ‘In 1735, Joseph de Jussieu, a French botanist, collected detailed information about the cinchona trees.’
    • ‘Quinine is a natural extract of the cinchona tree, and was used to treat malaria.’
    • ‘The cinchona tree was, in effect, the key to all the other riches of the New World, because without it Europeans could not survive the debilitating fevers that seemed to strike everyone who ventured into the Americas.’
    1. 1.1 The dried bark of the cinchona tree, which is a source of quinine and other medicinal alkaloids.
      • ‘Hahnemann carried out tests on himself with extracts of cinchona bark, which contains quinine, and found it caused fever.’
      • ‘Containing quinine and other alkaloids, Peruvian barks, or cinchona, were the ‘aspirin’ of their time.’
      • ‘Homeopathy was developed in the 18th century by Dr Samuel Hahnemann after he discovered that small amounts of cinchona bark, the treatment for malaria, caused malaria-like fevers when he took it while healthy.’
      • ‘He was impressed with cinchona, the South American tree bark that was the first effective treatment for malaria.’
      • ‘Quinine is derived from cinchona bark, and mixed with lime.’


Mid 18th century: modern Latin, named after the Countess of Chinchón (died 1641), who was treated with a similar drug in South America.