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

  • n. Any of various shrubs or small trees of the genus Rhus, having compound leaves, clusters of small greenish flowers, and usually red, hairy fruit. Some species, such as the poison ivy and poison oak, cause an acute itching rash on contact.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of various shrubs or small trees of the genus Rhus including the poison ivy and poison oak.
  • n. A sour spice popular in the Eastern Mediterranean made from the berries of the plant.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any plant of the genus Rhus, shrubs or small trees with usually compound leaves and clusters of small flowers. Some of the species are used in tanning, some in dyeing, and some in medicine. One, the Japanese Rhus vernicifera, yields the celebrated Japan varnish, or lacquer.
  • n. The powdered leaves, peduncles, and young branches of certain species of the sumac plant, used in tanning and dyeing.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In leather manufacturing, to treat with sumac.
  • n. One of numerous shrubs or small trees of the genus Rhus. See def. 2, and phrases below.
  • n. A product of the dried and ground leaves of certain shrubs or trees of the genus Rhus or of other genera, much used for tanning light-colored leathers and to some extent for dyeing.

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

  • n. wood of a sumac
  • n. a shrub or tree of the genus Rhus (usually limited to the non-poisonous members of the genus)


Middle English, preparation made from sumac, from Old French (possibly via Medieval Latin sumach), from Arabic summāq, sumac tree, from Aramaic, dark red, from səmaq, to be red; see smq in Semitic roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old French sumac, from Medieval Latin sumach, from Arabic سماق (summāq), from Classical Syriac ܣܘܡܩ (summāq, "red, sumac"). (Wiktionary)



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  • The sumac is a gypsy queen,
    Who flaunts in crimson dressed,
    And wild along the roadside runs,
    Red blossoms in her breast.

    - Alfred Tennyson, 'Autumn Fancies'.

    November 12, 2008

  • from semitic root to become red

    January 22, 2008