chrys·​a·​ro·​bin ˌkri-sə-ˈrō-bən How to pronounce chrysarobin (audio)
: a powder derived from the wood of a tropical tree used to treat skin diseases

Word History


earlier chrysarobine, from chrys- + araroba "powder made from wood of a Brazilian tree, Vataireopsis araroba" (borrowed from Brazilian Portuguese, perhaps borrowed from Tupi *araróβa) + -ine entry 2

Note: The name chrysarobine was introduced by the British pharmacist David Skinner Kemp (1834 or 35-1912). Kemp came upon the use of the substance in Bombay and sent samples to Britain; see "On Goa Powder, by Mr. David S. Kemp," read to the meeting of the Pharmaceutical Society on January 6, 1864 (Pharmaceutical Journal and Transactions, 2nd series, vol. 5, no. 8, February, 1864, pp. 345-47). He appears to have first used the name in print in a paper read to the Pharmaceutical Society on his behalf on March 5, 1875 ("Chrysarobine, or Goa Powder. By D.S. Kemp, Bombay," Pharmaceutical Journal and Transactions, 3rd series, vol. 5, March 13, 1875, p. 729). The word appears earlier, though misspelled chrysatobine, in an article on the medicinal applications of the substance (J. Fayrer, "Indian ringworm and its treatment by Goa powder," Medical Times and Gazette, vol. 2 for 1874, issue of October 24, 1874, pp. 470-71). The conjectural Tupi form *araróβa is taken from Antônio Geraldo da Cunha, Dicionário histórico das palavras portuguesas de origem tupi (São Paulo, 1978). The final element may be róβa "bitter"; cf. "amargosa cousa - roba" in the 17th-century Vocabulário na língua brasílica (2a edicão, 1o vol., São Paulo, 1952).

First Known Use

1887, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of chrysarobin was in 1887

Dictionary Entries Near chrysarobin

Cite this Entry

“Chrysarobin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jul. 2024.

Medical Definition


chrys·​a·​ro·​bin ˌkris-ə-ˈrō-bən How to pronounce chrysarobin (audio)
: a brownish to orange-yellow powder obtained especially from Goa powder and used to treat skin diseases (as psoriasis)
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