• synonyms

sweet gum

  1. a tall, aromatic tree, Liquidambar styraciflua, of the eastern U.S., having star-shaped leaves and fruits in rounded, burlike clusters.
  2. the hard reddish-brown wood of this tree, used for making furniture.
  3. the amber balsam exuded by this tree, used in the manufacture of perfumes and medicines.
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Origin of sweet gum

An Americanism dating back to 1690–1700
Also called red gum (for defs 1, 2).
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for sweet gum

Historical Examples of sweet gum

  • But as to the liquidambar, or sweet-gum, there can be no question.

    Getting Acquainted with the Trees

    J. Horace McFarland

  • Sweet-gum bark and copperas and make any cloth a purple color.

  • He had found among them a sweet-gum ball and a pine cone, and was applying them to the invariable test of taste.

    His "Day In Court"

    Charles Egbert Craddock (AKA Mary Noailles Murfree)

  • The sweet-gum, copalm, or alligator tree (Liquidambar styraciflua).

  • There is not a more characteristic tree known than the sweet-gum, or liquidambar.


    Joseph Le Conte

British Dictionary definitions for sweet gum

sweet gum

  1. a North American liquidambar tree, Liquidambar styraciflua, having prickly spherical fruit clusters and fragrant sap: the wood (called satin walnut) is used to make furnitureCompare sour gum
  2. the sap of this tree
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Often shortened to: red gum
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