from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun 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.
  • noun Any of several related plants in the mint family, such as the bee balm and the horse balm.
  • noun Any of various aromatic resins exuded from several trees and shrubs, especially the balm of Gilead (Commiphora) and related plants in the family Burseraceae.
  • noun An aromatic salve or oil.
  • noun A pleasing aromatic fragrance.
  • noun A soothing, healing, or comforting agent or quality.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To embalm.
  • To anoint as with balm or with anything fragrant or medicinal.
  • To soothe; mitigate; assuage; heal.
  • noun 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.
  • noun An aromatic preparation used in embalming the dead. See embalm.
  • noun 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.)
  • noun Aromatic fragrance; sweet odor.
  • noun Anything which heals, soothes, or mitigates pain.
  • noun A tree that yields balm; especially, a tree of the genus Balsamodendron.
  • noun One of several aromatic plants of the natural order Labiatæ, particularly plants of the genus Melissa.
  • noun A fragrant resin from South America. See carauna.
  • noun 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.
  • noun The sweet balm, Dracocephalum Canariense (see above).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb Archaic, Archaic, Archaic To anoint with balm, or with anything medicinal.
  • noun (Bot.) An aromatic plant of the genus Melissa.
  • noun The resinous and aromatic exudation of certain trees or shrubs.
  • noun Any fragrant ointment.
  • noun Anything that heals or that mitigates pain.
  • noun (Zoöl.) the European cicada.
  • noun (Bot.) a small evergreen African and Asiatic tree of the terebinthine family (Balsamodendron Gileadense). Its leaves yield, when bruised, a strong aromatic scent; and from this tree is obtained the balm of Gilead of the shops, or balsam of Mecca. This has a yellowish or greenish color, a warm, bitterish, aromatic taste, and a fragrant smell. It is valued as an unguent and cosmetic by the Turks. The fragrant herb Dracocephalum Canariense is familiarly called balm of Gilead, and so are the American trees, Populus balsamifera, variety candicans (balsam poplar), and Abies balsamea (balsam fir).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun 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.
  • noun A plant or tree yielding such substance.
  • noun Any soothing oil or lotion, especially an aromatic one.
  • noun figuratively Something soothing.
  • noun Any of various aromatic plants of the genus Melissa, such as lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) or bee balm.
  • verb archaic To anoint with balm, or with anything medicinal.
  • verb figuratively To soothe; to mitigate.

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

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


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

[Middle English baume, balsam, from Old French basme, from Latin balsamum; see balsam.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French basme, from Latin balsamum.


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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