from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A chiefly Mediterranean perennial herb (Melissa officinalis) in the mint family, grown for its lemon-scented foliage, which is used as a seasoning or for tea. Also called lemon balm.
  • n. Any of several related plants in the mint family, such as the bee balm and the horse balm.
  • n. Any of various aromatic resins exuded from several trees and shrubs, especially the balm of Gilead (Commiphora) and related plants.
  • n. An aromatic salve or oil.
  • n. A pleasing aromatic fragrance.
  • n. A soothing, healing, or comforting agent or quality.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of various aromatic resins exuded from certain plants, especially trees of the genus Commiphora of Africa, Arabia and India and Myroxylon of South America.
  • n. A plant or tree yielding such substance.
  • n. Any soothing oil or lotion, especially an aromatic one.
  • n. Something soothing.
  • n. Any of various aromatic plants of the genus Melissa, such as lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) or bee balm.
  • v. To anoint with balm, or with anything medicinal.
  • v. To soothe; to mitigate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An aromatic plant of the genus Melissa.
  • n. The resinous and aromatic exudation of certain trees or shrubs.
  • n. Any fragrant ointment.
  • n. Anything that heals or that mitigates pain.
  • transitive v. To anoint with balm, or with anything medicinal.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To embalm.
  • To anoint as with balm or with anything fragrant or medicinal.
  • To soothe; mitigate; assuage; heal.
  • n. An oily, aromatic, resinous substance, exuding spontaneously from trees of the genus Balsamodendron; hence, by extension, any aromatic or odoriferous exudation from trees or shrubs, whether spontaneous or after incision; balsam.
  • n. An aromatic preparation used in embalming the dead. See embalm.
  • n. Any aromatic or fragrant ointment, whether for ceremonial or for medicinal use, as for healing wounds or soothing pain. (For the ecclesiastical use, see balsam.)
  • n. Aromatic fragrance; sweet odor.
  • n. Anything which heals, soothes, or mitigates pain.
  • n. A tree that yields balm; especially, a tree of the genus Balsamodendron.
  • n. One of several aromatic plants of the natural order Labiatæ, particularly plants of the genus Melissa.
  • n. A fragrant resin from South America. See carauna.
  • n. In North America, the balsam-poplar, Populus balsamifera, the buds of which are coated in spring with an odorous balsam; also occasionally the balsam-fir, Abies balsamea, which yields the Canada balsam.
  • n. The sweet balm, Dracocephalum Canariense (see above).

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. any of various aromatic resinous substances used for healing and soothing
  • n. semisolid preparation (usually containing a medicine) applied externally as a remedy or for soothing an irritation


Middle English baume, balsam, from Old French basme, from Latin balsamum; see balsam.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French basme, from Latin balsamum. (Wiktionary)



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  • "COMINIUS: Though I could wish
    You were conducted to a gentle bath,
    And balms applied to you, yet dare I never
    Deny your asking: take your choice of those
    That best can aid your action."
    - William Shakespeare, 'The Tragedy of Coriolanus'.

    August 28, 2009