- any of various oily, fragrant, resinous substances, often of medicinal value, exuding from certain plants, especially tropical trees of the genus Commiphora.
- a plant or tree yielding such a substance.
- any aromatic or fragrant ointment.
- aromatic fragrance; sweet odor: the balm of orange blossoms.
- any of various aromatic plants of the mint family, especially those of the genus Melissa, as M. officinalis (lemon balm), having ovate lemon-scented leaves used as a seasoning.
- anything that heals, soothes, or mitigates pain: the balm of friendship in troubled times.
- any of various oily aromatic resinous substances obtained from certain tropical trees and used for healing and soothingSee also balsam (def. 1)
- any plant yielding such a substance, esp the balm of Gilead
- something comforting or soothingsoft music is a balm
- any aromatic or oily substance used for healing or soothing
- Also called: lemon balm an aromatic Eurasian herbaceous plant, Melissa officinalis, having clusters of small fragrant white two-lipped flowers: family Lamiaceae (labiates)
- a pleasant odour
early 13c., basme, aromatic substance made from resins and oils, from Old French basme (Modern French baume), from Latin balsamum, from Greek balsamon “balsam,” from Hebrew basam “spice,” related to Aramaic busma, Arabic basham “balsam, spice, perfume.”
Spelling refashioned 15c.-16c. on Latin model. Sense of “healing or soothing influence” (1540s) is from aromatic preparations from balsam (see balsam). Biblical Balm of Gilead, however, began with Coverdale; the Hebrew word there is tsori, which was rendered in Septuagint and Vulgate as “resin” (Greek rhetine, Latin resina).
- An aromatic salve or oil.
- A soothing, healing, or comforting agent.