balm

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Borrowed from Anglo-Norman and Middle French baume, from Old French basme, from Latin balsamum, itself from Ancient Greek βάλσαμον (bálsamon). Spelling modified 16th c. to conform to Latin etymology. Doublet of balsam.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

balm (plural balms)

  1. 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.
  2. A plant or tree yielding such substance.
  3. Any soothing oil or lotion, especially an aromatic one.
    There is a balm in Gilead.... (Spiritual)
  4. (figuratively) Something soothing.
    Classical music is a sweet balm for our sorrows.
    • 1781, [Mostyn John Armstrong], History and Antiquities of the County of Norfolk. Volume IX. Containing the Hundreds of Smithdon, Taverham, Tunstead, Walsham, and Wayland, volume IX, Norwich: Printed by J. Crouse, for M. Booth, bookseller, OCLC 520624543, page 51:
      BEAT on, proud billows; Boreas blow; / Swell, curled waves, high as Jove's roof; / Your incivility doth ſhow, / That innocence is tempeſt proof; / Though ſurly Nereus frown, my thoughts are calm; / Then ſtrike, Affliction, for thy wounds are balm. [Attributed to Roger L'Estrange (1616–1704).]
  5. Any of various aromatic plants of the genus Melissa, such as lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) or bee balm.

Synonyms[edit]

Related terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Verb[edit]

balm (third-person singular simple present balms, present participle balming, simple past and past participle balmed)

  1. (archaic) To anoint with balm, or with anything medicinal.
  2. (figuratively) To soothe; to mitigate.

See also[edit]

Anagrams[edit]