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balsa

[bawl-suh, bahl-]
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noun
  1. a tropical American tree, Ochroma pyramidale (lagopus), of the bombax family, yielding an exceedingly light wood used for life preservers, rafts, toy airplanes, etc.
  2. a raft made of balsa wood.
  3. any life raft.
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Origin of balsa

1770–80; < Spanish: boat
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for balsa

Historical Examples

  • Behind yonder rock is my balsa and with it are the two maidens.

    The Virgin of the Sun

    H. R. Haggard

  • The people and houses crossed it swimming, and the baggage was carried over in a balsa, a sort of hide-raft.

  • Up betimes upon the morning of our second day on shore, for a drive to the Balsa.

  • On this coast we again meet with wooden canoes, although the balsa, or tule raft, is also in use.

  • Passing through the gates the bearers placed the balsa on the ground and fell back.


British Dictionary definitions for balsa

balsa

noun
  1. a bombacaceous tree, Ochroma lagopus, of tropical America
  2. Also called: balsawood the very light wood of this tree, used for making rafts, etc
  3. a light raft
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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

Word Origin and History for balsa

n.

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper