[bawl-suh m]
See more synonyms for balsam 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.
  3. oleoresin(def 1).
  4. any of certain transparent turpentines, as Canada balsam.
  5. a plant or tree yielding a balsam.
  6. balsam fir.
  7. any of several plants belonging to the genus Impatiens, as I. balsamina, a common garden annual.Compare balsam family.
  8. any aromatic ointment for ceremonial or medicinal use.
  9. 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
Related formsbal·sa·ma·ceous [bawl-suh-mey-shuh s] /ˌbɔl səˈmeɪ ʃəs/, adjectivebal·sam·ic [bawl-sam-ik] /bɔlˈsæm ɪk/, adjectivebal·sam·y, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for balsamic

Contemporary Examples of balsamic

  • Now drizzle in the balsamic vinegar and slap your chicken around the bowl.

    The Daily Beast logo
    How to Cook 'Ghetto Gourmet'

    The Daily Beast

    December 8, 2009

  • Gaby Dalkin takes out her high-end olive oil and blends it with balsamic vinegar to pour over caprese salad.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Secrets to Buying Olive Oil

    Jill Donenfeld

    December 1, 2009

  • But the manager says turnover is high and that he sells out of even such pricey items as Pringles, Nescafe, and balsamic vinegar.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Life After the Bombs

    Judith Miller

    October 16, 2009

Historical Examples of balsamic

British Dictionary definitions for balsamic


  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
  3. any of certain aromatic resinous turpentinesSee also Canada balsam
  4. any plant yielding balsam
  5. Also called: busy Lizzie any of several balsaminaceous plants of the genus Impatiens, esp I. balsamina, cultivated for its brightly coloured flowers
  6. anything healing or soothing
Derived Formsbalsamic (bɔːlˈsæmɪk), adjectivebalsamy, adjective

Word Origin for balsam

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

c.1600, from balsam + -ic.



1570s, "aromatic resin used for healing wounds and soothing pains," from Latin balsamum "gum of the balsam tree" (see balm). There is an isolated Old English reference from c.1000, and Middle English used basme, baume, from the French form of the word. As a type of flowering plant of the Impatiens family, it is attested from 1741.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

balsamic in Science


  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.