Definition of henna in US English:



  • 1The powdered leaves of a tropical shrub, used as a dye to color the hair and decorate the body.

    • ‘If you want to get rid of gray, rinse your hair with henna.’
    • ‘In addition, visitors will be able to have their hair braided and to be decorated with henna.’
    • ‘Follow the instructions on the box, but since henna dries the hair, do combine it with the oil.’
    • ‘For a truly natural hair dye option, consider henna, which is made from the powdered leaves of a desert shrub called Lawsonia.’
    • ‘Women could have massages, henna painting, hair braiding and facials while businesses in the area hosted stalls.’
    • ‘They did crazy things like putting henna in their hair, and for want of authentic shower caps, wrapping grocery bags around their heads and merrily going for a walk in their new heady contraptions.’
    • ‘Hair coloring with henna and indigo was also done.’
    • ‘I used to love coloring my hair red with henna, but finally quit doing it.’
    • ‘Recently, having one's hands decorated with designs in henna has become more popular in the United States.’
    • ‘Hands and feet were the only areas traditionally decorated with henna, but now many people apply henna on other parts of the body.’
    • ‘Zara was wearing a bright red dress and had a trace of henna in her hair and on her fingers.’
    • ‘There is a discount of 50 per cent on a wide range of goods at the expo - from pickles, curry powder, henna, and toys, to washing machines and microwave ovens.’
    • ‘Also increasing in popularity in the United States is body painting with henna.’
    • ‘Every story I've heard involving sensitivity to henna has involved black henna.’
    • ‘Trace a pattern on your ankle or biceps and paint in with temporary colours or henna.’
    • ‘Unlike black and red henna, which dye your hair, neutral henna just adds body and shine.’
    • ‘Most people in November were wearing leather coats, as you see throughout Europe, and the women, most of whom were brunettes, had dyed their hair with henna.’
    • ‘This is followed the next day with the bride's preparation, in which all her body hair is removed, and she, too, is decorated with henna.’
    • ‘The henna powder was boiled for thirty minutes with copper coins in the water.’
    • ‘My palms are turning orange, and I don't know if it's from dyeing my hair with henna or from eating too many carrots.’
    reddish-brown, red-brown, dark red, titian, titian red, tawny, russet, chestnut, chestnut-coloured, copper, coppery, copper-coloured, rust-coloured, rufous, henna, hennaed
    View synonyms
  • 2The Old World shrub which produces henna, with small pink, red, or white flowers.

    Lawsonia inermis, family Lythraceae

    • ‘More than 90 percent of this 2,000-year-old oasis town, surrounded by date palms, orange orchards and henna in the desert separating Iran from Pakistan, has been destroyed.’
    • ‘Here, under labyrinthine covered arches, one can buy items as varied as ceramics, carpets, silver, brass, miniatures, tiles, saffron, pistachio nuts and henna.’
    • ‘The process of extracting the dyes - from the indigo plant, saffron, madder root, henna, barks, fruit peels and leaves and flowers of various plants - is tedious and requires a lot of sunlight, water and room.’
    • ‘The sheep is lovingly fed salt, barley and henna before it is killed.’
    • ‘The crushed leaves of the henna plant, when mixed with other natural ingredients, provides a thick, aromatic paste used for painting hands and feet.’
    • ‘The herbs illam and henna were used by women to soften and beautify their skin.’
    • ‘It uses the coloring properties of henna, a bushlike herb that grows throughout Africa and the Middle East.’
    • ‘Originally, natural dyes from amla, henna, pomegranate, indigo and turmeric were used to dye the silk.’


[with object]
  • Dye (hair) with henna.

    • ‘She tilted her head, her long, hennaed hair rustling against her cheek.’
    • ‘One old man with a richly hennaed beard stood up suddenly as the sound of Beethoven's Ode To Joy was broadcast, apparently from his head.’
    • ‘So, I stayed home and hennaed my hair while I downloaded all this new junk.’
    • ‘I henna my hair sometimes, personally, and sometimes it grows out normal color.’
    • ‘She had her hennaed hair in a bun, running around, looking young and beautiful.’
    • ‘She had come to him, after all, an unfinished thing, a child bride, almost colorless except for her red bindi and her hennaed hands.’
    • ‘Her thick hair, cut to graze her shoulders, was hennaed a deep red, striking against her clear, translucent, alabaster skin.’
    • ‘It is not uncommon for brides and their friends to take over a bathhouse the night before the big day and go through the rituals of washing, depilation and even hennaing the hair.’
    • ‘She wears glittering, flimsy garments with sheer embroidered scarves, hennaed hair, nail varnish and lipstick.’
    • ‘Her veil off, she wore her hennaed hair in a long braid.’
    • ‘He was an old man with hennaed hair and heavy plastic spectacles.’
    • ‘It provides a fascinating look at New Delhi as the city westernizes into a circus of cellphones, saris, hennaed hands and shiny BMWs.’
    • ‘In the second term, I ditched the drab chain-store clothes, hennaed my hair and trendied myself up.’
    • ‘The whole atmosphere is of medieval times, and veiled women, their hands and feet hennaed with elaborate patterns, haggle in the markets and small shops which cluster the peripheries of the town.’
    • ‘With her sparse, hennaed hair and crimson lips, she greeted us with warm generosity.’
    • ‘This practice is still part of Middle Eastern cultures today, particularly for special occasions such as weddings, when along with the bride, her mother, aunts, and friends will henna themselves as well.’
    • ‘Her hair is hennaed to cover the grey and her figure was long ago permanently shrouded in a shapeless dress.’
    • ‘She has bucked the trend of every heavy-tressed, hennaed housewife.’
    • ‘The marriage ceremony also violated centuries of protocol, as images of Bennani's face and hennaed hands, were televised live to the world.’
    • ‘Come to my house and my sister will henna the rest of your hair.’
    reddish-brown, red-brown, dark red, titian, titian red, tawny, russet, chestnut, chestnut-coloured, copper, coppery, copper-coloured, rust-coloured, rufous, henna, hennaed
    View synonyms


Early 17th century: from Arabic ḥinnā'.