- the dried root of a shrubby South American plant, Cephaelis ipecacuanha, of the madder family.
- the plant itself.
- a drug consisting of the dried roots of this plant, used as an emetic, purgative, etc., and as the source of emetine.
1788, borrowing via Port. of a shortened form of Tupi ipecacuana (1682), a medicinal plant of Brazil, the Indian word said to mean "small plant causing vomit."
"The apothecary thus soon filled up with an enormous list of remedies for cancer: tincture of lead, extracts of arsenic, boar's tooth, fox lungs, rasped ivory, hulled castor, ground white-coral, ipecac, senna, and a smattering of purgatives and laxatives."
- Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer