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From Anglo-Norman and Middle French baume, from Old French basme, from Latin balsamum. Spelling modified 16th c. to conform to Latin etymology.



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.


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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.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)