Quiz: Remember the definition of mal de mer?


[bahm] /bɑm/
any of various oily, fragrant, resinous substances, often of medicinal value, exuding from certain plants, especially tropical trees of the genus Commiphora.
a plant or tree yielding such a substance.
any aromatic or fragrant ointment.
aromatic fragrance; sweet odor:
the balm of orange blossoms.
any of various aromatic plants of the mint family, especially those of the genus Melissa, as M. officinalis (lemon balm) having ovate lemon-scented leaves used as a seasoning.
anything that heals, soothes, or mitigates pain:
the balm of friendship in troubled times.
1175-1225; Middle English basme, ba(u)me < Anglo-French basme, bal(s)me, ba(u)me; Old French < Latin balsamum balsam; with orthographic l pedantically restored
Related forms
balmlike, adjective
Can be confused
balm, bomb.
3. salve, unguent, lotion, emollient. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for balm
  • Although chicken soup is soothing it's balm wares off when the bowl empties.
  • Soothing town-gown tensions might need the balm of money, and lots of it.
  • Hurricanes may actually provide a healing balm of sorts for dying coral reefs, a new study shows.
  • The country reluctantly returned to the dreary reality of ending its conflict without the healing balm of football.
  • Politicians and pundits alike took it as their job to apply balm.
  • Making your own lip balm is easy, and it lets you control what goes into the product you're putting on your lips.
  • Downplaying the results may be a psychological balm that any human being might use, but it does not change the objective facts.
  • Try planting some bee balm if you want to get a hummingbird's attention.
  • It's no secret that alcohol is often used as a balm for human frailty.
  • It's a brace against the whistling winds and quiet nights of the soul, a balm to the free-floating desire for cuddle and comfort.
British Dictionary definitions for balm


any of various oily aromatic resinous substances obtained from certain tropical trees and used for healing and soothing See also balsam (sense 1)
any plant yielding such a substance, esp the balm of Gilead
something comforting or soothing: soft music is a balm
any aromatic or oily substance used for healing or soothing
Also called lemon balm. an aromatic Eurasian herbaceous plant, Melissa officinalis, having clusters of small fragrant white two-lipped flowers: family Lamiaceae (labiates)
a pleasant odour
Derived Forms
balmlike, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French basme, from Latin balsamumbalsam
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for balm

early 13c., basme, aromatic substance made from resins and oils, from Old French basme (Modern French baume), from Latin balsamum, from Greek balsamon "balsam," from Hebrew basam "spice," related to Aramaic busma, Arabic basham "balsam, spice, perfume."

Spelling refashioned 15c.-16c. on Latin model. Sense of "healing or soothing influence" (1540s) is from aromatic preparations from balsam (see balsam). Biblical Balm of Gilead, however, began with Coverdale; the Hebrew word there is tsori, which was rendered in Septuagint and Vulgate as "resin" (Greek rhetine, Latin resina).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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balm in Medicine

balm (bäm)

  1. An aromatic salve or oil.

  2. A soothing, healing, or comforting agent.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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balm in Technology

(Block And List Manipulation) An extensible language, developed by Malcolm Harrison in 1970, with LISP-like features and ALGOL-like syntax, for CDC 6600.
["The Balm Programming Language", Malcolm Harrison, Courant Inst, May 1973].

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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balm in the Bible

contracted from Bal'sam, a general name for many oily or resinous substances which flow or trickle from certain trees or plants when an incision is made through the bark. (1.) This word occurs in the Authorized Version (Gen. 37:25; 43:11; Jer. 8:22; 46:11; 51:8; Ezek. 27:17) as the rendering of the Hebrew word _tsori_ or _tseri_, which denotes the gum of a tree growing in Gilead (q.v.), which is very precious. It was celebrated for its medicinal qualities, and was circulated as an article of merchandise by Arab and Phoenician merchants. The shrub so named was highly valued, and was almost peculiar to Palestine. In the time of Josephus it was cultivated in the neighbourhood of Jericho and the Dead Sea. There is an Arab tradition that the tree yielding this balm was brought by the queen of Sheba as a present to Solomon, and that he planted it in his gardens at Jericho. (2.) There is another Hebrew word, _basam_ or _bosem_, from which our word "balsam," as well as the corresponding Greek balsamon, is derived. It is rendered "spice" (Cant. 5:1, 13; 6:2; margin of Revised Version, "balsam;" Ex. 35:28; 1 Kings 10:10), and denotes fragrance in general. _Basam_ also denotes the true balsam-plant, a native of South Arabia (Cant. l.c.).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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