cit·​ro·​nel·​la | \ˌsi-trə-ˈne-lə \

Definition of citronella 

: a lemon-scented grass (Cymbopogon nardus) of southern Asia that yields an oil used in perfumery and as an insect repellent also : its oil

Examples of citronella in a Sentence

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Natural bug sprays, such as Mrs. White’s Unstung Hero, feature ingredients like lemon and citronella that irritate mosquitos that come in contact with them, causing the bugs to leave before if not during a bite. Mackenzie Wagoner, Vogue, "Here’s Why You Are a Mosquito Magnet," 5 July 2018 Hot grills, charcoal, lighter fluid and citronella candles can also harm your pet. Susannah Bryan,, "Keep your pet safe on July 4th," 2 July 2018 Some people swear by citronella candles, others hold fast to their Avon Skin So Soft bath oil. Elizabeth Myong, Houston Chronicle, "Tips on avoiding mosquitoes this summer," 20 June 2018 What’s more, a recent study in the Journal of Insect Science found that sprays with citronella and other essential oils did little if anything to repel mosquitoes. Kari Molvar, Vogue, "The Best Bug Sprays for a Bite-Proof Summer, According to the Pros," 18 June 2018 In it, the purported efficacy of products like Avon Skin So Soft, citronella oil, soybean oil, and other natural remedies was disproven. Wes Siler, Outside Online, "Is DEET Safe?," 18 May 2018 Headed outside to find the citronella tin had been moved. Rasputin Todd,, "The diary of a broken man and his 'pet' raccoon," 11 May 2018 Natural repellents made with essential oils like citronella, lemon eucalyptus, and soybean are considerably gentler than DEET (though, again, not as effective). Megan Michelson, Outside Online, "DEET Will Kill Your Gore-Tex Jacket," 11 June 2018 Herbs such as catnip, rosemary and basil are good deterrents as are marigolds, scented geranium and lemon grass, which contains citronella often found in candles. Suzanne Baker, Naperville Sun, "It's time to start thinking about mosquito deterrents," 29 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'citronella.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of citronella

circa 1858, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for citronella

New Latin, from French citronnelle lemon balm, from citron

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The first known use of citronella was circa 1858

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English Language Learners Definition of citronella

: an oil that smells somewhat like lemons and that is used in candles, lamps, etc., to keep bugs away


cit·​ro·​nel·​la | \ˌsi-trə-ˈnel-ə \

Medical Definition of citronella 

2 : a fragrant grass (Cymbopogon nardus) of southern Asia that yields citronella oil

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