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Mastic tears


From Middle English mastik, from Old French mastic, from Latin mastiche, from Ancient Greek μαστίχη (mastíkhē), from μαστιχάω (mastikháō, I chew) (note the chewing gum sense).



mastic (countable and uncountable, plural mastics)

  1. An evergreen shrub or small tree, Pistacia lentiscus (mastic tree), native to the Mediterranean.
    • 1745, Richard Pococke, A Description of the East, and Some other Countries, Volume II, Book I, Chapter 1,[1]
      The island of Scio is now called by the Greeks Kio [Χιο], the antient Greek name of it was Chios [Χιος]; it was first called Ætalia in very antient times, and also Mastic, on account of the great number of mastic trees that were in this island.
  2. A hard, brittle, aromatic and transparent resin produced by this tree and used to make varnishes and chewing gum, and as a flavouring.
    • 1799, John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, Voyage Performed by the Late Earl of Sandwich Round the Mediterranean in the Years 1738 and 1739, Written by Himself, pp. 317-318,[2]
      The mastic, of which the people of Scio gather every year an incredible quantity, is a very rich gum, made use of in medicines, which distils from a shrub called, in Latin, Lentiscus.
    • 1830, Thomas Moore, Letters and Journals of Lord Byron: with Notices of his Life, New York: J. & J. Harper, Volume I, p. 402,[3]
      Having taken upon me to order the repast, and knowing that Lord Byron, for the last two days, had done nothing towards sustenance, beyond eating a few biscuits and (to appease appetite) chewing mastic, I desired that we should have a good supply of, at least, two kinds of fish.
    • 1834, James Augustus St. John, Egypt and Mohammed Ali, or Travels in the Valley of the Nile, London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green & Longman, Volume I, Chapter 132, pp. 322-323,[4]
      [] in many harems, the women are in the habit of burning mastic on a small chaffing-dish, and holding the mouth of the jars over the smoke; by which means they communicate to them a scent which perfumes the water for eight or ten days, at the expiration of which the operation must be repeated.
  3. An alcoholic liquor flavoured with this resin.
    • 1913, Marjorie Bowen, A Knight of Spain, Part II, Chapter 6,[5]
      He took a list from the desk and read aloud Fatima’s offerings:— [] four bottles of rare mastic from Scio.
  4. A flexible, waterproof cement used as an adhesive, sealant or filler.
    • 1961, V. S. Naipaul, A House for Mr Biswas, Vintage International, 2001, Part One, Chapter 5,
      ‘They have a few holes here and there. A few. Tiny tiny.’ ‘We could fix those up easy. Mastic cement. Not expensive, boss.’

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Middle EnglishEdit



  1. Alternative form of mastik