Definition of balm in US English:

balm

noun

  • 1A fragrant ointment or preparation used to heal or soothe the skin.

    • ‘From shampoos to pain balms - they have a whole array of consumer items in their ever-expanding list.’
    • ‘Would my hard veneer of masculinity be transformed into a soft glow by the balm of moisturising cream?’
    • ‘He unpacked enough magical stuff to start making potions and balms for healing again.’
    • ‘Although she treats the scarring with ointments, balms and appropriate make-up, camouflaging the scars is only partially successful.’
    • ‘If you are concerned about caring for your skin you can buy skin cream, bug balm and wind balm - all made from only natural ingredients.’
    • ‘Body washes, shampoos, liquid talc, massaging balms and skin lotions are all priced at £3.99.’
    • ‘The most common products used for the lip area include lipsticks and balms.’
    • ‘Most shaving creams contain a little moisturiser, but if a man needs to improve the general condition of his skin, then he should use an aftershave balm.’
    • ‘The better ones will lavish you with tiny containers of balms, lotions and other sweet-smelling potions.’
    • ‘She also had a herb and vegetable garden, where she would grow her own food and ingredients for homemade medicinal balms and liquids.’
    • ‘As a precaution I had come armed with repellent cream and balm.’
    • ‘Olive oil also acts as a soothing balm for all types of skin rashes, including those caused through an allergic reaction.’
    • ‘Calendula lotion can be used as a soothing balm.’
    • ‘With modern grooming products, battery-powered razors, and shaving balms to smooth the skin, there's probably no excuse for a man to have any facial hair.’
    • ‘An extension to her practice is the line of lotions, gels, creams, balms and lip glosses.’
    • ‘Male grooming is booming in Yorkshire - but do men actually know their scrubs from their balms and their gels from their serums?’
    • ‘Health kits, containing handy wooden tools made of acacia tree, will help to kill pain in your body parts without the application of any balms.’
    • ‘If lipstick ‘bleeds’ into lines around your lips, drench them with moisturisers and use a balm every night.’
    • ‘We tested hundreds of colors and moisturizing balms to pick these favorites.’
    • ‘He noted that many young physicians were healing themselves with the same balms they prescribed for patients.’
    ointment, lotion, cream, salve, liniment, embrocation, rub, gel, emollient, unguent, balsam, moisturizer
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    1. 1.1 Something that has a comforting, soothing, or restorative effect.
      ‘the murmur of the water can provide balm for troubled spirits’
      • ‘What you need is an aural balm to soothe all ears.’
      • ‘It is a place to reflect on noble sacrifice and draw comfort from the balm of uplifting scenery.’
      • ‘Her smile and her touch were a comforting balm to Estelle.’
      • ‘Yet while most young'uns turn to the soothing balm of indifference, others are drawn toward alternative means of expressing their frustration, which is where hip-hop steps up to bat.’
      • ‘Indeed, an evenly divided Congress could provide the healing balm the country desperately needs.’
      • ‘These people cannot or will not allow themselves the comfort, the balm, that the boy's soul lives eternally.’
      • ‘As someone who regularly complains about modern African art's lack of visibility in contemporary exhibitions, this dual presentation was a balm for the spirit, a hint of better things to come.’
      • ‘For a moment, the murk feels strangely comforting, like walking out of a rave into the balm of an urban winter smog.’
      • ‘His best friend's laughter was like a balm, soothing away all his tension and residual nervousness from the date.’
      • ‘The oil of religion shouldn't be used to increase the flames of violence but as a balm to heal the wounds of the people.’
      • ‘It also reminds in the quietest way how families can provide a balm against this worry.’
      • ‘For visitors the relaxed atmosphere soothes like a balm after the heated days of summer.’
      • ‘This was a writer who used words as weapons, as salves, as balms and ballistic missiles.’
      • ‘Again, the nature of the job has a lot to do with it: plenty of brain-food, regular contact with enthusiastic law clerks, and life tenure, which is a balm to anyone's blood pressure.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, the soaring crude oil price and burgeoning demand in the Far East should provide some soothing balm to the share price.’
      • ‘Anyone who has ever had a friend comment on their music collection in a less than favourable fashion will find this article balm for their troubled soul.’
      • ‘Three weeks in Thailand (which I've just enjoyed) are a balm to any spirit.’
      • ‘They come for the balm that touch can provide in times that are immensely stressful to the human psyche.’
      • ‘A new love could be the balm that soothes your soul.’
      • ‘Mushroom-hunting is a balm to both body and spirit.’
      relief, comfort, ease, consolation, cheer, solace
      View synonyms
  • 2A tree which yields a fragrant resinous substance, especially one used in medicine.

    Species in several families, in particular those of the genus Commiphora (family Burseraceae)

    • ‘Shakyamuni passed away from his 80 years life at the foot of the Linden balm tree in Kushinagara, India.’
    • ‘The balm tree is no longer found in Judea.’
    • ‘A typical nest thus pointed out by an over-obliging bird was saddled neatly on a horizontal limb of a balm tree at the height of about 30 feet from the ground and the ever-present lake.’
    • ‘Sitting here, I have so far watched a hummingbird mating ritual, the honey bees at the balm tree, the unusually marked bees in flowering chives.’
    • ‘Now this did not one jot move the orange till she saw a man at work with an incision-knife, upon a balm-tree there at hand, to let out the balsam.’
    1. 2.1 The resinous substance yielded by a balm.
      • ‘The balm exuded by this shrub led to it being regarded throughout part of its native range (especially in Spain, Italy, & Greece) as one & the same with the biblical Balm of Gilead.’
  • 3A bushy herb of the mint family, with leaves smelling and tasting of lemon.

    Melissa officinalis, family Labiatae

    • ‘They are, in descending order of potency, lemon balm, peppermint and spearmint.’
    • ‘A favorite blend is equal parts of spearmint, chamomile flowers, fennel seeds, catnip and lemon balm.’
    • ‘Mint, lemon balm, pennyroyal, chives, chamomile, mayflower, and summer savory are a few herbs perfectly suited to this microclimate.’
    • ‘You can also buy the balms direct from the company's website for $3 each.’
    • ‘In addition to peppermint and ginger, good stomach-friendly seasonings include caraway, chamomile, dill, fennel, lavender, lemon balm, rosemary and thyme.’
    • ‘My favorite herbs to grow are basil, oregano, lemon balm, parsley and mint.’
    • ‘Herbs such as chives, lemon balm, marjoram, and mint are also attractive to insects.’
    • ‘Harvest culinary and medicinal herbs like lemon balm, mint, French tarragon, summer savory and basil before they go to seed.’
    • ‘Some of my favourites include vervain, rosemary, lemon balm, skullcap, wild oats and ginseng.’
    • ‘Herbs you can use in the bath are bay leaf, chamomile, hyssop, lemon balm and lime flowers.’
    • ‘Besides picking the more familiar lemon balm, coltsfoot and mullein, I found myself picking honeysuckle flowers for their antibacterial and antiviral properties.’
    • ‘Along with taking herbs, inhale the relaxing scents of lavender, chamomile, lemon balm, bergamot, orange blossom or rose.’
    • ‘I found my homegrown mint, lemon balm and chamomile were more flavorful than the herbal ingredients I could buy.’
    • ‘Growing my own fresh herbs saves me easily $35-50 per year… I grow my own oregano, basil, lemon balm, lemon thyme, chives, sage, and cilantro.’
    • ‘The consensus is that they tend to avoid aromatic herbs including garlic, onions, chives, rosemary, lavender, lemon balm, mint, tansy, lovage, marjoram, thyme, sage and fennel.’
    • ‘Lyle was restricted to only water and tea made of chamomile, lemon balm and spearmint, and he was not to drink fruit juice for several weeks.’
    • ‘There will also be a scented area with plants such as curry, rosemary, lemon balm and lavender.’
    • ‘Its flavour is similar to juniper, and like lemon balm its leaves can be used as a bath herb or dried for potpourri and herb pillows.’
    • ‘In his head, he made a catalog of what the tea would need - blackcurrant, chamomile, heather, hawthorn, lemon balm, motherwort, marjoram, passion flower, and St John's wort.’
    • ‘To ensure that the herb is fresh and potent, crush a few leaves and take a whiff; lemon balm should smell like lemons.’
    1. 3.1 Used in names of other aromatic herbs of the mint family, e.g. bee balm.
      • ‘I almost passed over her, cloaked in an old brown robe and deep in conversation with a toothless old peasant woman selling various herbs and balms.’
      • ‘Bee Balm is a very pretty herb with a wonderful fruity, minty aroma.’
      • ‘I purchased my bee balm from flea and farmer's markets.’
      • ‘They can't see red, but are attracted to some red flowers, such as bee balm, that reflect ultraviolet light.’
      • ‘The apothecary, Harold, was robbed of some herbs and balms, as I am sure you know.’

Origin

Middle English (in the sense ‘preparation for embalming, fragrant resinous substance’): from Old French basme, from Latin balsamum (see balsam).

Pronunciation

balm

/bä(l)m//bɑ(l)m/