Definition of citronella in US English:



  • 1A fragrant natural oil used as an insect repellent and in perfume and soap manufacture.

    • ‘And even though I wasn't there to buy things for the new house, but to purchase things to get out of this one, I tucked a small, bright orange citronella candle into the cart.’
    • ‘Substances that cats find aversive include citronella, perfumes, solid air fresheners, citrus, aloe, and eucalyptus oil.’
    • ‘I snuck out of my family's rented cottage one hot August night and wandered until I happened upon a scene lit by flickering tiki torches and glowing citronella sticks.’
    • ‘It has combined pure vegetable wax with citronella (an essential oil) and hemp seed oil to create a toxic-free summer evening.’
    • ‘The night air is acrid with the scent of hundreds of citronella candles.’
    • ‘New machines designed to release sprays based on citronella oil or geraniol, another plant-derived repellent with a sweet, rosy odor, also are available.’
    • ‘This product consists of clay pellets impregnated with a blend of citronella oils which cats detest.’
    • ‘Herbal flea collars containing essential oils such as pennyroyal, eucalyptus and citronella can also prevent fleas and ticks from landing on your pet.’
    • ‘You can illuminate your garden with a selection of wooden or metal lanterns, colour-changing lily pad lights or bright, citronella bucket candles.’
    • ‘Many essential oils including citronella, lavender, and peppermint act as a natural repellent against insects.’
    • ‘She has suggested citronella candles to combat stress.’
    • ‘First thing you are going to need are mosquito coils or citronella candles to keep away the winged blood-suckers.’
    • ‘Jam laced with derris, camphor, citronella or pepper also makes an effective bait.’
    • ‘A string hammock, citronella candles, a hiking staff, bug spray and face net, sunscreen, sunglasses and bathing suit reminded them of the warm climate she was used to, and suddenly they felt colder for it.’
    • ‘While some products utilize natural repellents such as lemongrass or citronella, they don't protect you for long.’
    • ‘Essential oils from allspice, basil, cedar, cinnamon, citronella, garlic, geranium, lavender, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, rosemary, and thyme have been reported to have repellent properties.’
    • ‘Fill the bionic bug's head with citronella lamp oil, light the wick, and watch all attackers turn and flee for their lives.’
    • ‘Most use citronella oil as a primary bug deterrent, but some contain long lists of ‘essential’ ingredients.’
    • ‘When I go outside and smell more burning leaves than citronella candles, it can only mean fall is here, and that winter and spring aren't too far behind.’
    • ‘Repellent candles or lamps, that burn citronella oil, are readily available from hardware stores and some supermarkets.’
  • 2The southern Asian grass from which the citronella oil is obtained.

    Cymbopogon nardus, family Gramineae

    • ‘The research station has succeeded in making 400 lemon grass germ plasm collections, 21 pamarosa collections, 8 vetiver collections and 18 citronella collections.’
    • ‘And today candles made with oil from citronella grass help keep the bugs away from backyard barbecues.’
    • ‘Some herbs that repel fleas include: juniper, pennyroyal, citronella, eucalyptus, cedar and Canadian fleabane.’
    • ‘The citronella, or mosquito plant, is a scented geranium related to the common garden geranium.’


Mid 19th century: modern Latin, from citron + the diminutive suffix -ella.