su·​mac | \ ˈshü-ˌmak How to pronounce sumac (audio) , ˈsü- \
variants: or less commonly sumach

Definition of sumac

1 : any of a genus (Rhus) of trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the cashew family that have leaves turning to brilliant colors in the autumn, small usually dioecious flowers, and spikes or loose clusters of red or whitish berries — compare poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac
2 : a material used in tanning and dyeing that consists of dried powdered leaves and flowers of various sumacs
3 : the tart dried and ground red berries of several sumacs (such as Rhus coriaria) used as a spice especially in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking

Examples of sumac in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Paired with sumac, a spice with intense tartness and, like chard, surefire appeal, the French classic hasn’t been improved by chard, really, but rather transformed into a whole different kettle of fish (or rather, potato). Yotam Ottolenghi, New York Times, "This Gratin Lets Swiss Chard Do the Talking," 16 Mar. 2020 Is this the right time to admit my blossoming love affair with sumac? Nick Kindelsperger,, "From shawarma to falafel, where to find the best Middle Eastern sandwiches in Chicagoland," 16 Aug. 2019 Serve with a drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of sumac or paprika for garnish. Beth Segal, cleveland, "All in the family: Cooking with your kids while in quarantine," 5 May 2020 Sprinkle the chickpeas with the pepper, cumin and sumac and toss to coat. Washington Post, "Spiced Tahini Loaded Sweet Potatoes," 12 Jan. 2020 Look instead for greenbrier, honeysuckle, plum, laurel, sumac, blackberry, clear-cuts, browse, and forbs in the woods or natural clearings. Jeff Murray, Field & Stream, "10 Common Deer Hunting Mistakes You Should Fix," 8 Nov. 2019 In a large bowl, toss the carrots with the garlic, shallot, oil, salt, black pepper, coriander, sumac and red pepper flakes. Joe Yonan,, "Cashews make this vegan carrot soup creamy. Spices make it wonderful.," 6 Nov. 2019 In a large bowl, add the flour, cornstarch, salt and sumac. Omar Mamoon,, "The case for frying chicken at home amid shelter in place," 16 Apr. 2020 Poison ivy, oak and sumac contain a substance called urushiol, which is a clear liquid compound found all parts of the plant. Tim Macwelch, Outdoor Life, "13 Toxic Wild Plants That Look Like Food," 13 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sumac.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of sumac

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for sumac

Middle English sumac, from Anglo-French, ultimately from Arabic summāq

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Time Traveler for sumac

Time Traveler

The first known use of sumac was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

23 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sumac.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for sumac


How to pronounce sumac (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sumac

: a type of tree, bush, or vine that has many small leaves and produces red or white berries


variants: also sumach \ ˈshü-​ˌmak , ˈsü-​ \

Kids Definition of sumac

: a tree, shrub, or woody vine that has leaves with many leaflets and loose clusters of red or white berries


variants: also sumach \ ˈsü-​ˌmak How to pronounce sumach (audio) , ˈshü-​ How to pronounce sumach (audio) \

Medical Definition of sumac

: any of various plants of the genus Rhus including several (as poison sumac) having foliage poisonous to the touch — compare poison ivy, poison oak

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More from Merriam-Webster on sumac

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sumac

Spanish Central: Translation of sumac

Nglish: Translation of sumac for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about sumac

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