Definition of colocynth in US English:



  • 1A tropical Old World climbing plant of the gourd family, which bears a pulpy fruit and has long been cultivated.

    Citrullus colocynthis, family Curcurbitaceae

    Also called bitter apple
    • ‘The ground was luxuriant with colocynth, whose runners and fruits looked festive in the early light.’
    • ‘In recent years colocynth has found a place in the oil industry of western Rajasthan where its cultivation serves three purposes, viz. continuous supply of seed (as cash crop) to oil industry for soap making, stabilization of shifting sand, and checking the danger of its becoming extinct due to over exploitation.’
    • ‘As one proceeds inwards, the thinly spaced vegetation become more frequent, with a dense acacia forest, continuous tufts of panicum grass and colocynths covering the valley floor in the broad middle section.’
    • ‘This indicated on an average out of 11 pairs of chromosome around 9 pairs were able to associate normally This indicated the possibility of high recombination and thereby genetic introgression of desirable traits through hybridization between C. colocynths and established interspecific tumba derivatives.’
    • ‘Commercial extract of colocynth may be often found in the market made with an aqueous menstruum.’
    1. 1.1 The fruit of the colocynth plant.
      • ‘It is a native of Africa, where there were originally two species: the watermelon itself and the very bitter colocynth, which is inedible without being processed but has some food uses as well as some in traditional medicine.’
      • ‘They may take strong cathartics unadulterated to purify their bellies, such as, for instance, unripe colocynths, Thapsia garganica, and Euphorbia.’
      • ‘If eaten in large quantities, the colocynth might even cause death.’
    2. 1.2 A bitter purgative drug obtained from the colocynth fruit.
      • ‘Nevertheless, a century later many Victorians were taking a nightly dose of blue pill, aloes, colocynth, and castor and croton oils to purge their bowels.’
      • ‘The patient was given Colocynth as an acute remedy as the acute picture matched with colocynth.’
      • ‘It is frequently combined with blue pill or compound colocynth pill, or with Dover's powder.’
      • ‘Ovarian neuralgias are often greatly benefited by colocynth.’
      • ‘Fatal cases of poisoning from overdoses of colocynth are not rare, but they represent a small percentage given its wide use.’


Mid 16th century: via Latin from Greek kolokunthis.