Definition of balm of Gilead in English:

balm of Gilead

Pronunciation /ˌbä(l)m əv ˈɡilēəd/ /ˌbɑ(l)m əv ˈɡɪliəd/


  • 1A fragrant medicinal resin obtained from certain trees.

    ‘We've got Vietnamese coriander, for example, and balm of Gilead, which is not normally used in cooking but has a fantastic smell.’
    • ‘He holds it out in his hand to me as if he is offering the balm of Gilead or all the riches of Babylon or something precious and extravagant like that.’
    • ‘This balm of Gilead has a wonderful fragrance.’
  • 2A tree that yields balm of Gilead.

    an Arabian tree traditionally of importance in medicine and perfumery (Commiphora gileadensis, family Burseraceae)either of two poplars with sticky aromatic buds (Populus × gileadensis or Populus × candicans) and the balsam poplar, family Salicaceae)the balsam fir

    ‘The air is full of birds, and sweet with the breath of the pine, the balm of Gilead, and the new hay.’
    • ‘The balm-of-Gilead tree, which has mostly escaped from cultivation, is found along roadsides or streams from Newfoundland to Minnesota and Georgia.’
    • ‘The Balm-of-Gilead has heart-shaped leaves with rounded, slightly hairy leaf stalks.’
    • ‘Meadowsweet is really easy to pick, and the balm of gilead buds are horribly messy.’


Early 16th century balm from a translation in Coverdale's Bible (Gen. 37:25), rendered ‘resin’ in the Vulgate; Gilead from the assumption that this resin is the substance mentioned in the Bible as coming from the area of Gilead (now part of Jordan).