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From Middle French benjoin, from Spanish benjuí, Portuguese beijoin, Italian benzoi, from Arabic لُبَان جَاوِيّ(lubān jāwiyy, Javanese frankincense). The initial lu was probably lost because it was taken as the definite article in Romance. Compare oliban.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈbɛnzəʊɪn/, /ˈbɛnzɔɪn/


benzoin (countable and uncountable, plural benzoins)

  1. A resinous substance, dry and brittle, obtained from the Styrax benzoin, a tree of Sumatra, Java, etc., having a fragrant odor, and slightly aromatic taste. It is used in the preparation of benzoic acid, in medicine, and as a perfume. [from 16th c.]
    • Francis Bacon
      These following bodies do not draw: smaragd, achates, corneolus, pearl, jaspis, chalcedonius, alabaster, porphyry, coral, marble, touchstone, haematites, or bloodstone; smyris, ivory, bones, ebontree, cedar, cypress, pitch, softer rosin, camphire, galbanum, ammoniac, storax, benzoin, loadstone, asphaltum.
  2. (organic chemistry) An aromatic hydroxy ketone, 2-hydroxy-1,2-di(phenyl)ethanone, synthesized from benzaldehyde; any derivative of this compound. [from 19th c.]
  3. The spicebush, Lindera benzoin. [from 19th c.]

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