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  1. an aromatic gum resin from various Asian and African trees of the genus Boswellia, especially B. carteri, used chiefly for burning as incense in religious or ceremonial practices, in perfumery, and in pharmaceutical and fumigating preparations.
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Origin of frankincense

First recorded in 1350–1400, frankincense is from the Middle English word fraunk encense. See frank1, incense1
Also called olibanum.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for frankincense

odor, aroma, scent, perfume, balm, bouquet, essence, punk, redolence, flame, fuel, spice, frankincense, myrrh

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British Dictionary definitions for frankincense


  1. an aromatic gum resin obtained from trees of the burseraceous genus Boswellia, which occur in Asia and AfricaAlso called: olibanum
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Word Origin for frankincense

C14: from Old French franc free, pure + encens incense 1; see frank
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 frankincense


late 14c., apparently from Old French franc encense, from franc "noble, true" (see frank (adj.)), in this case probably signifying "of the highest quality" + encens "incense" (see incense (n.)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper