Definition of benzoin in US English:



  • 1A fragrant gum resin obtained from a tropical tree of eastern Asia, used in medicines, perfumes, and incense.

    This is obtained from several species of the genus Styrax (family Styracaceae), in particular S. benzoin

    Also called gum benjamin
    • ‘Then we added the addiction of patchouli, the softness of benzoin and the creaminess of sandalwood.’
    • ‘When the mixture begins to cool, add twelve drops of lemon juice and six drops of tincture of benzoin, while still continuing to stir.’
    • ‘Bismuth or benzoin should not be applied until after the laser has been shut down completely.’
    • ‘Maceration is the only feasible method of producing a tincture from an unorganized drug such as gum benzoin or propolis resin.’
    • ‘With every step a new aroma seemed to leap out of the darkness - succulent summer flowers here, earthy woods there, benzoin, pumpkin spice even.’
  • 2Chemistry
    A white crystalline aromatic ketone present in gum benzoin.

    Alternative name: 2-hydroxy-1,2-diphenylethanone; chemical formula: C₆H₅CHOHCOC₆H₅

    • ‘Benzoin and its derivatives are used as intermediates for the synthesis of organic compounds and as catalysts in photopolymerization.’
    • ‘Typical examples are aromatic ketones such as acetophenone, benzophenone, benzoin ethyl ether and benzyl dimethyl ketal.’
    • ‘Although benzoin and benzoic acid had been called aromatics before 1820, it was not until the 1850s that benzene and its derivatives were placed in the chemical family of aromatics.’
    • ‘Stereochemically and functionally rich polycyclic compounds are obtained by the first crossed aldehyde-ketone benzoin reaction in excellent yield under mild reaction conditions.’
    • ‘The benzoin molecule has a C=O bond as well, but bonded to two other carbons, thus it is a ketone.’


Mid 16th century: from French benjoin, based on Arabic lubānjāwī ‘incense of Java’.