Definition of balsa in English:



  • 1A very lightweight wood used in particular for making models and rafts.

    • ‘The model with its precarious bits of balsa wood just as it was, glued down, was kept for more than a year.’
    • ‘Iconic monster Godzilla has smashed up his last balsa wood model of Tokyo after the Japanese studio behind the films decided to end the long-running franchise.’
    • ‘Unlike his California contemporaries, Snyder primarily used balsa wood removed from scrapped Navy life rafts.’
    • ‘It turns out that the ‘smoking gun’ the warbloggers have been braying about for the past week is made of balsa wood and duct tape, and powered by lawnmower engines.’
    • ‘Hunt constructed these lightweight volumes from thin ribs of spruce or balsa wood before sheathing them in layers of silk paper and metal leaf.’
    • ‘His model aircraft were usually scruffy constructions of paper and balsa wood and far from aerodynamically efficient.’
    • ‘We've all seen sketches and clay models of new cars, or balsa wood models of skyscrapers: these aren't made for fun.’
    • ‘Though a good portion of board material and design during the 50's was based on the use of balsa wood, the 50's were also extremely influential to surfboard technology.’
    • ‘If you're thinking of building an escape raft, all you'll get is balsa wood.’
    • ‘I wonder if architects even still build those cute models out of foamcore and balsa wood anymore.’
    • ‘Luckily, though, they don't ski like balsa wood.’
    • ‘In the past he has replicated rolls of floral-printed toilet paper in silk, modeled Tupperware cups of beeswax and created sponges of balsa wood.’
    • ‘One of these was to build models of an earthquake-proof house out of balsa wood.’
    • ‘Aero modellers use balsa wood to fashion their models.’
    • ‘For example, balsa wood is one of the lightest, least dense woods there is, and it's considered a hardwood.’
    • ‘Then there was the time some company put cheap balsa wood model airplanes inside the conference tote bag.’
    • ‘Their project involved newspapers, balsa wood, and glue.’
    • ‘Buildings were represented as shiny plastic models in the middle of balsa wood surrounds - and to reduce the surrounding context to the level of featureless balsa wood says it all, really.’
    • ‘Being much less dense than balsa wood, these expanded polystyrene floats are much smaller, offering less resistance to the strike which, in practical terms, should mean more fish are hooked.’
    • ‘Here at the launch site they were just a few dozen engineers and laborers in the deep wilderness, every blessed thing brought in piece by piece on balsa wood rafts.’
  • 2The fast-growing tropical American tree from which this wood is obtained.

    • ‘A relatively poor country, Equador exports bananas and balsa, a fact of interest to Matthew.’
    • ‘Other wood boards sold for in excess of $10,000 a piece, including a 1950s balsa paddleboard and a redwood plank from the 1930s.’
    • ‘We hiked up Vermont Valley with a guide, Ellroy, to look for indigenous wild St. Vincent parrots, through thick rain forest of figs, palms, balsa and incongruous pine trees.’
    • ‘The company claims the tree is a genetically engineered plant that combines the best qualities of balsa, bamboo, and aspen, but the USDA has never heard of such a Frankenwood.’
    • ‘The only trees that are in danger are the hardwoods, such as balsa and African Blackwood, as these take far longer to grow than trees used for paper production.’


Early 17th century (denoting a kind of South American raft or fishing boat): from Spanish, ‘raft’.