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[bawl-suh m] /ˈbɔl səm/
any of various fragrant exudations from certain trees, especially trees of the genus Commiphora, as balm-of-Gilead.
Compare balm (def 1).
the similar products yielded by the leguminous trees Myroxylon pereirae and M. balsamum, of South America.
Compare Peru balsam, tolu.
oleoresin (def 1).
any of certain transparent turpentines, as Canada balsam.
a plant or tree yielding a balsam.
any of several plants belonging to the genus Impatiens, as I. balsamina, a common garden annual.
Compare balsam family.
any aromatic ointment for ceremonial or medicinal use.
any agency that heals, soothes, or restores:
the balsam of understanding and appreciation.
Origin of balsam
before 1000; Middle English balsamum, balsaum, Old English balzaman < Latin balsamum < Greek bálsamon. See balm
Related forms
[bawl-suh-mey-shuh s] /ˌbɔl səˈmeɪ ʃəs/ (Show IPA),
[bawl-sam-ik] /bɔlˈsæm ɪk/ (Show IPA),
balsamy, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for balsam
  • The tallest native cottonwood, with open crown of erect branches and sticky, resinous buds with balsam odor.
  • Shea butter contains several derivatives of cinnamic acid, a compound common to cinnamon and balsam trees.
  • The decline in moose population allows more balsam fir saplings to live.
  • Advocates drowning cooking smells for flooding kitchen with scent of new-mown hay or balsam, or incense.
  • It's balsam fir branches stuck into a foam core, with fake holly berries and a red bow.
  • balsam fir tip blight damages the current-season growth of the trees.
  • balsam boughs are the only types of boughs that can be harvested.
  • balsam the minstrel is one of the five minstrels who plays the bongo drums.
  • balsam is a term used for various pleasantly scented plant products.
British Dictionary definitions for balsam


any of various fragrant oleoresins, such as balm or tolu, obtained from any of several trees and shrubs and used as a base for medicines and perfumes
any of various similar substances used as medicinal or ceremonial ointments
any of certain aromatic resinous turpentines See also Canada balsam
any plant yielding balsam
Also called busy Lizzie. any of several balsaminaceous plants of the genus Impatiens, esp I. balsamina, cultivated for its brightly coloured flowers
anything healing or soothing
Derived Forms
balsamic (bɔːlˈsæmɪk) adjective
balsamy, adjective
Word Origin
C15: from Latin balsamum, from Greek balsamon, from Hebrew bāśām spice
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 balsam

1570s, "aromatic resin used for healing wounds and soothing pains," from Latin balsamum "gum of the balsam tree" (see balm). There is an isolated Old English reference from c.1000, and Middle English used basme, baume, from the French form of the word. As a type of flowering plant of the Impatiens family, it is attested from 1741.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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balsam in Science
Any of several aromatic resins that flow from certain plants and that contain considerable amounts of benzoic acid, cinnamic acid, or both, or their esters. Balsams are used in perfumes and medicines.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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