Share this entry

balsam Syllabification: bal·sam
Pronunciation: /ˈbôlsəm/

Definition of balsam in English:


1An aromatic resinous substance, such as balm, exuded by various trees and shrubs and used as a base for certain fragrances and medical and cosmetic preparations.
Example sentences
  • It has a distinctive fragrance with hints of balsam or mint, and is sometimes called mint geranium.
  • All around the two silent watchers on the hill, an immense space spread itself between earth and sky, filled with dusky starlight and a fragrance of balsam and pine-smoke.
  • Look for a shampoo with gentle detergents that won't strip natural hair oils, or a product with conditioning agents like protein or balsam to coat hair strands and seal in moisture.
1.1A tree or shrub that yields balsam.
Example sentences
  • Back in the 1950s and 60s, nearly everyone got a balsam pine tree, and they were always asymmetrical and much sparser than today's trees.
  • Though the original homes of most of the wild balsams are the Old World tropics, not much has been done to cultivate this ornamental plant in the country in new areas.
  • They have diversified into everything from Christmas trees, balsam wreaths and maple syrup to cabin rentals, fishing and hunting excursions, birdseye and curly maple lumber products, and veneer for Popsicle sticks.
2A herbaceous plant cultivated for its flowers, which are typically pink or purple and carried high on the stem.
Example sentences
  • To one side the River Seven meandered, thick with willow, purple with balsam and white with convolvulus.
  • The Indian balsam plant is an example of the incredible relationship between the pollinator and the plant.
  • The balsam impatiens usually grows as a two- or three-stemmed plant to a height of 2 1/2 feet, with white to dark red flowers tucked into the leaf axils, where they tend to be overshadowed by leaves.


Old English, via Latin from Greek balsamon.

Words that rhyme with balsam

flotsam • awesome • Folsom

Definition of balsam in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day exemplum
Pronunciation: ɪɡˈzɛmpləm
an example or model...