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The leaves and fruit of a tanner's sumac (Rhus coriaria) shrub, a species of sumac (sense 1), at the Shio-Mgvime monastery in Georgia
The spice sumac (sense 3) on sale at the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey

From Middle English sumac, asimac, simak, sumak, symak (portions of the shrub Rhus coriaria, chiefly used for medicinal purposes), from Anglo-Norman sumak, symak, and Old French sumac,[1] or directly from its etymon Medieval Latin sumach, sumac, from Arabic سُمَّاق(summāq), from Classical Syriac ܣܘܡܩܐ(summāqā, red; sumac). The English word is cognate with Italian sommaco, sommacco, Occitan simac, Portuguese sumagre, Spanish zumaque.[2]



sumac (usually uncountable, plural sumacs)

  1. Any of various shrubs or small trees of the genus Rhus and other genera in Anacardiaceae, particularly the elm-leaved sumac, Sicilian sumac, or tanner's sumac (Rhus coriaria).
    • 1957 May 4, J[erome] D[avid] Salinger, “Zooey”, in The New Yorker[1], New York, N.Y.: New Yorker Magazine Inc., ISSN 0028-792X, OCLC 243417341, page 32 (start of article):
      There was a Steinway grand piano [...] a cherrywood writing table, and an assortment of floor lamps, table lamps, and "bridge" lamps that sprang up all over the congested inscape like sumac.
  2. Dried and chopped-up leaves and stems of a plant of the genus Rhus, particularly the tanner's sumac (see sense 1), used for dyeing and tanning leather or for medicinal purposes.
    • 1985, Balakian, Peter, “The Oriental Rug”, in Robert Pack, Jay Parini, editors, Introspections: American poets on one of their own poems, Hanover and London: University Press of New England for Middlebury College Press, published 1997, →ISBN, page 30:
      I feel the wool give way
      as if six centuries of feet
      had worn it back to the hard
      earth floor it was made to cover.

      Six centuries of Turkish heels
      on my spine-dyed back:
      madder, genista, sumac
      one skin color in the soil.
  3. A sour spice popular in the Eastern Mediterranean, made from the berries of tanner's sumac.

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Derived termsEdit



  1. ^ sumac, n.” in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 22 July 2019.
  2. ^ sumach, sumac, n.”, in OED Online  , Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1917; “sumac, n.” in Lexico,; Oxford University Press.

Further readingEdit





sumac m (plural sumacs)

  1. sumac (tree)
  2. sumac (spice)

Further readingEdit

Old FrenchEdit


sumac m (oblique plural sumas, nominative singular sumas, nominative plural sumac)

  1. sumac
    • 1377, Bernard de Gordon, Fleur de lis de medecine (a.k.a. lilium medicine), page 131-132 of this essay:
      et couvrir par quelconque cause que soit ou par sumac, ou par galles, ou par galbanum, ou par baing d’eaue froide, ou de vive, ou semblables.