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[bawl-suh, bahl-] /ˈbɔl sə, ˈbɑl-/
a tropical American tree, Ochroma pyramidale (lagopus), of the bombax family, yielding an exceedingly light wood used for life preservers, rafts, toy airplanes, etc.
a raft made of balsa wood.
any life raft.
Origin of balsa
1770-80; < Spanish: boat Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for balsa
  • So he tried different approaches until he managed to build a camera out of the lightest material he had available-balsa wood.
  • On-site recreation includes two outdoor swimming pools, shoreline swimming and lounging on balsa-made rafts.
  • It was constructed of logs of balsa wood and bamboo lashed together with rope.
  • They were being stored in a balsa-wood cake box, which he opened.
  • At the joints, the balsa wood may need to be more than one layer thick.
  • Cut a boat shape out of the balsa wood, making a triangle bow at one end.
  • Create a vertical end-grain balsa web for the bolt beam.
British Dictionary definitions for balsa


a bombacaceous tree, Ochroma lagopus, of tropical America
Also called balsawood. the very light wood of this tree, used for making rafts, etc
a light raft
Word Origin
C18: from Spanish: raft
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 balsa

South American tree, 1866, apparently from Spanish balsa "float," originally the name of rafts used on the Pacific coast of Latin America (1777). The wood is very light.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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