[ bawl-suhm ]
See synonyms for: balsambalsamic on

  1. any of various fragrant exudations from certain trees, especially trees of the genus Commiphora, as balm-of-Gilead.: Compare balm (def. 1).

  2. the similar products yielded by the leguminous trees Myroxylon pereirae and M. balsamum, of South America.: Compare Peru balsam, tolu.

  1. any of certain transparent turpentines, as Canada balsam.

  2. a plant or tree yielding a balsam.

  3. any of several plants belonging to the genus Impatiens, as I. balsamina, a common garden annual.: Compare balsam family.

  4. any aromatic ointment for ceremonial or medicinal use.

  5. any agency that heals, soothes, or restores: the balsam of understanding and appreciation.

Origin of balsam

before 1000; Middle English balsamum, balsaum,Old English balzaman<Latin balsamum<Greek bálsamon.See balm

Other words from balsam

  • bal·sa·ma·ceous [bawl-suh-mey-shuhs], /ˌbɔl səˈmeɪ ʃəs/, adjective
  • bal·sam·ic [bawl-som-ik, ‐sam‐], /bɔlˈsɒm ɪk, ‐ˈsæm‐/, adjective
  • bal·sam·y, adjective

Words Nearby balsam Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use balsam in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for balsam


/ (ˈbɔːlsəm) /

  1. any of various fragrant oleoresins, such as balm or tolu, obtained from any of several trees and shrubs and used as a base for medicines and perfumes

  2. any of various similar substances used as medicinal or ceremonial ointments

  1. any of certain aromatic resinous turpentines: See also Canada balsam

  2. any plant yielding balsam

  3. Also called: busy Lizzie any of several balsaminaceous plants of the genus Impatiens, esp I. balsamina, cultivated for its brightly coloured flowers

  4. anything healing or soothing

Origin of balsam

C15: from Latin balsamum, from Greek balsamon, from Hebrew bāśām spice

Derived forms of balsam

  • balsamic (bɔːlˈsæmɪk), adjective
  • balsamy, adjective

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

Scientific definitions for balsam


[ bôlsəm ]

  1. Any of several aromatic resins that flow from certain plants and that contain considerable amounts of benzoic acid, cinnamic acid, or both, or their esters. Balsams are used in perfumes and medicines.

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