- a tropical American tree, Ochroma pyramidale (lagopus), of the bombax family, yielding an exceedingly light wood used for life preservers, rafts, toy airplanes, etc.
- a raft made of balsa wood.
- any life raft.
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
Behind yonder rock is my balsa and with it are the two maidens.
The people and houses crossed it swimming, and the baggage was carried over in a balsa, a sort of hide-raft.Buenos Ayres and the Provinces of the Rio de La Plata
Up betimes upon the morning of our second day on shore, for a drive to the Balsa.Kathay: A Cruise in the China Seas
W. Hastings Macaulay
On this coast we again meet with wooden canoes, although the balsa, or tule raft, is also in use.The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft, Volume 1
Hubert Howe Bancroft
Passing through the gates the bearers placed the balsa on the ground and fell back.
- a bombacaceous tree, Ochroma lagopus, of tropical America
- Also called: balsawood the very light wood of this tree, used for making rafts, etc
- a light raft
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
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.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper