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[em-bahm] /ɛmˈbɑm/
verb (used with object)
to treat (a dead body) so as to preserve it, as with chemicals, drugs, or balsams.
to preserve from oblivion; keep in memory:
his deeds embalmed in the hearts of his disciples.
to cause to remain unchanged; prevent the development of.
to impart a balmy fragrance to.
Origin of embalm
1300-50; Middle English embalmen, embaumen < Old French emba(u)smer, equivalent to em- em-1 + -ba(u)smer, verbal derivative of ba(u)sme balm
Related forms
embalmer, noun
embalmment, noun
unembalmed, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for embalm
Historical Examples
  • The persons who embalm the bodies are artists who have learnt this secret from their ancestors.

    Practical Taxidermy Montagu Browne
  • For it was his business to notice things, and embalm them afterward in ink.

    The Freelands John Galsworthy
  • With delight, it is to be hoped; my poem will embalm your memory for posterity.

    The Emperor, Complete Georg Ebers
  • "But they will require the uninjured corpse of you, to embalm it," said Pentaur.

    Uarda, Complete Georg Ebers
  • We treasure a good thing when we hear it, and love to embalm it.

  • "They will not bring them here; they will not embalm them," said she.

  • This was the reason why they took so much pains to embalm the body.

    Vestiges of the Mayas Augustus Le Plongeon
  • And if there were, they had no recording scribes to embalm their efforts in history.

    Inventions in the Century William Henry Doolittle
  • He alone can embalm the past, and welcome the tidings of the future.

    Sound Mind John Haslam
  • They are to give my son and Sarah a beautiful funeral, and embalm their remains.

    The Pharaoh and the Priest Alexander Glovatski
British Dictionary definitions for embalm


verb (transitive)
to treat (a dead body) with preservatives, as by injecting formaldehyde into the blood vessels, to retard putrefaction
to preserve or cherish the memory of
(poetic) to give a sweet fragrance to
Derived Forms
embalmer, noun
embalmment, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French embaumer; see balm
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 embalm

mid-14c., from Middle French embaumer "preserve (a corpse) with spices," from en- "in" (see en- (1)) + baume "balm" (see balm) + -er verbal suffix. The -l- inserted in English 1500s in imitation of Latin. Related: Embalmed; embalming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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embalm in Medicine

embalm em·balm (ěm-bäm')
v. em·balmed, em·balm·ing, em·balms
To treat a corpse with preservatives in order to prevent decay.

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