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  1. any of various viscid, amorphous exudations from plants, hardening on exposure to air and soluble in or forming a viscid mass with water.
  2. any of various similar exudations, as resin.
  3. a preparation of such a substance, as for use in the arts or bookbinding.
  4. chewing gum.
  5. mucilage; glue.
  6. rubber1(def 1).
  7. gum tree.
  8. Philately. the adhesive by which a postage stamp is affixed.Compare o.g.(def 1).
  9. Informal. a rubber overshoe or boot.
verb (used with object), gummed, gum·ming.
  1. to smear, stiffen, or stick together with gum.
  2. to clog with or as if with some gummy substance.
verb (used without object), gummed, gum·ming.
  1. to exude or form gum.
  2. to become gummy.
  3. to become clogged with a gummy substance.
Verb Phrases
  1. gum up, Slang. to spoil or ruin.
  1. gum up the works. work(def 51).

Origin of gum1

1350–1400; Middle English gomme < Old French < Vulgar Latin *gumma, for Latin gummi, cummi < Greek kómmi
Related formsgum·less, adjectivegum·like, adjective


  1. Often gums. Also called gingiva. the firm, fleshy tissue covering the alveolar parts of either jaw and enveloping the necks of the teeth.
verb (used with object), gummed, gum·ming.
  1. to masticate (food) with the gums instead of teeth.
  2. to shape or renew the teeth of (a saw), as by grinding.
  1. beat one's gums, Slang. to talk excessively or ineffectively.

Origin of gum2

1275–1325; Middle English gome, Old English gōma palate; akin to Old Norse gōmr, German Gaumen palate


  1. by gum, (used as a mild oath).

Origin of gum3

First recorded in 1825–35; euphemism for God
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for gum


  1. any of various sticky substances that exude from certain plants, hardening on exposure to air and dissolving or forming viscous masses in water
  2. any of various products, such as adhesives, that are made from such exudates
  3. any sticky substance used as an adhesive; mucilage; glue
  4. NZ short for kauri gum
  5. See chewing gum, bubble gum, gumtree
  6. mainly British a gumdrop
verb gums, gumming or gummed
  1. to cover or become covered, clogged, or stiffened with or as if with gum
  2. (tr) to stick together or in place with gum
  3. (intr) to emit or form gum
See also gum up
Derived Formsgumless, adjectivegumlike, adjective

Word Origin

C14: from Old French gomme, from Latin gummi, from Greek kommi, from Egyptian kemai


  1. the fleshy tissue that covers the jawbones around the bases of the teethTechnical name: gingiva Related adjective: gingival

Word Origin

Old English gōma jaw; related to Old Norse gōmr, Middle High German gūme, Lithuanian gomurīs


  1. used in the mild oath by gum!

Word Origin

C19: euphemism for God


abbreviation for
  1. genitourinary medicine
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 gum


"resin," c.1300, from Old French gome "(medicinal) gum, resin," from Late Latin gumma, from Latin gummi, from Greek kommi "gum," from Egyptian kemai. As a shortened form of chewing gum, first attested 1842 in American English. The gum tree (1670s) was so called for the resin it exudes.


"membranes of the mouth," Old English goma "palate, side of the mouth" (single or plural), from a Germanic source represented by Old Norse gomi "palate," Old High German goumo; related to Lithuanian gomurys "palate," and perhaps from PIE *gheu- "to yawn" (cf. Greek khaos; see chaos).


early 14c., gommen, "treat with (medicinal or aromatic) gums," from gum (n.1). In the transferred or figurative sense of "spoil, ruin" (usually with up), it is first recorded 1901, probably from the notion of machinery becoming clogged. Of infants, etc., "to chew or gnaw (something) with the gums," by 1907, from gum (n.2). Related: Gummed; gumming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

gum in Science


  1. Any of various sticky substances that are produced by certain plants and trees and dry into brittle solids soluble in water. Gums typically are colloidal mixtures of polysaccharides and mineral salts.


  1. See gingiva.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.