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.
- (UK) IPA(key): /bɑːm/
- (US) IPA(key): /bɑm/, /bɑlm/
Audio (US) (file)
- Rhymes: -ɑːm
- Homophone: bomb (when l is not pronounced)
balm (plural balms)
- 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.
- A plant or tree yielding such substance.
- Any soothing oil or lotion, especially an aromatic one.
- There is a balm in Gilead.... (Spiritual)
- (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:
- Any of various aromatic plants of the genus Melissa, such as lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) or bee balm.
- (aromatic resin): balsam
- (plant or tree): balsam
- (soothing oil or lotion): balsam
- (something soothing): balsam
sweet-smelling oil or resin derived from some plants — see balsam
plant or tree yielding such substance — see balsam
soothing lotion — see balsam
figurative: something soothing — see balsam