Definition of derris in English:



  • 1An insecticide made from the powdered roots of certain tropical plants containing rotenone.

    ‘This consisted of picking off the mature caterpillars and feeding them to the hens, and a liberal application of derris powder.’
    • ‘Jam laced with derris, camphor, citronella or pepper also makes an effective bait.’
    • ‘Second, spray the tree with derris, which is widely available, when roughly half the flower petals have fallen.’
    • ‘The solution for all is to spray with derris immediately any problem is noticed, plus a precautionary spraying about a week before the plants flower.’
    • ‘Spray with insecticidal soap or derris as a last resort.’
  • 2A woody, climbing plant of the pea family that bears leathery pods and has tuberous roots from which this insecticide is obtained.

    Genus Derris, family Leguminosae

    ‘By the mid 1800s, the heads of chrysanthemum flowers were used to obtain pyrethrum, and rotenone was extracted from the derris plant.’
    • ‘The insecticidal properties of Derris roots were first discovered in 1848 and the plant was first used against the nutmeg caterpillar.’
    • ‘For rotenone is no post-war insect killer cooked up in a corporate lab, but a natural product, extracted from the derris plant, and a mainstay of organic farms and gardens.’



/ˈderəs/ /ˈdɛrəs/


Mid 19th century (in derris (sense 2)): modern Latin (genus name), from Greek, ‘leather covering’ (referring to the plant's leathery pods).