any of various oily, fragrant, resinous substances, often of medicinal value, exuding from certain plants, especially tropical trees of the genus Commiphora.
a plant or tree yielding such a substance.
any aromatic or fragrant ointment.
aromatic fragrance; sweet odor: the balm of orange blossoms.
any of various aromatic plants of the mint family, especially those of the genus Melissa, as M. officinalis (lemon balm), having ovate lemon-scented leaves used as a seasoning.
anything that heals, soothes, or mitigates pain: the balm of friendship in troubled times.

Nearby words

  1. bally,
  2. ballyhoo,
  3. ballymena,
  4. ballymoney,
  5. ballyrag,
  6. balm of gilead,
  7. balm-of-gilead,
  8. balmacaan,
  9. balmain,
  10. balmain bug

Origin of balm

1175–1225; Middle English basme, ba(u)me < Anglo-French basme, bal(s)me, ba(u)me; Old French < Latin balsamum balsam; with orthographic l pedantically restored

Related formsbalm·like, adjective

Can be confusedbalm bomb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for balm

British Dictionary definitions for balm



any of various oily aromatic resinous substances obtained from certain tropical trees and used for healing and soothingSee also balsam (def. 1)
any plant yielding such a substance, esp the balm of Gilead
something comforting or soothingsoft music is a balm
any aromatic or oily substance used for healing or soothing
Also called: lemon balm an aromatic Eurasian herbaceous plant, Melissa officinalis, having clusters of small fragrant white two-lipped flowers: family Lamiaceae (labiates)
a pleasant odour
Derived Formsbalmlike, adjective

Word Origin for balm

C13: from Old French basme, from Latin balsamum balsam

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 balm



early 13c., basme, aromatic substance made from resins and oils, from Old French basme (Modern French baume), from Latin balsamum, from Greek balsamon "balsam," from Hebrew basam "spice," related to Aramaic busma, Arabic basham "balsam, spice, perfume."

Spelling refashioned 15c.-16c. on Latin model. Sense of "healing or soothing influence" (1540s) is from aromatic preparations from balsam (see balsam). Biblical Balm of Gilead, however, began with Coverdale; the Hebrew word there is tsori, which was rendered in Septuagint and Vulgate as "resin" (Greek rhetine, Latin resina).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for balm




An aromatic salve or oil.
A soothing, healing, or comforting agent.

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