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

The tool is made from a bundle of prickly pear cactus spines, their tips saturated with dark pigment, inserted into a handle carved from lemonade sumac and bound with yucca fiber. Krista Langlois, National Geographic, "2,000-year-old tattoo needle identified by archaeologists," 28 Feb. 2019 One tannery operating north of the preserve used sumac on the hides, which produced a finer-quality leather that was used in women’s shoes and slippers. Peter Marteka,, "A fun visit to a hollow full of waterfalls, mountain laurel and rock formations in East Haddam," 14 June 2019 In another salad, cauliflower, pine nuts, and pomegranate seeds tangle together with honey and sumac. Devra First,, "Why is one of Boston’s best new restaurants in Newton?," 30 Apr. 2018 Transfer to a serving bowl and top with olive oil, sumac, nuts, and feta. Vitamix, Bon Appetit, "Sumac-Roasted Carrot Dip," 11 June 2018 Transfer to a bowl, smooth the top, and sprinkle with olive oil and sumac. Sheryl Julian,, "Recipe: Get a skillet blazing hot and you can make Middle Eastern lamb shawarma at home," 28 May 2018 This includes some of my favorite ingredients, like harissa, sumac, and za'atar. Audrey Bruno, SELF, "12 Health Food Trends to Be on the Lookout for in 2019," 11 Dec. 2018 Try the Wild Montauk Fluke Crudo with green apple, frisée, sumac, finger lime caviar, and sweet chili oil. Marley Marius, Vogue, "Where to Dine Out for a Traditional-ish Thanksgiving Meal in New York City," 14 Nov. 2018 The homemade hummus was flavored with garlic, lemon juice, salt, cumin and sumac. Carrie Dennett, The Seattle Times, "Grain bowls are trending. Here’s how to make your own.," 28 Nov. 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near sumac





sumac family

sumac wax


Statistics for sumac

Last Updated

5 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for sumac

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

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More Definitions for sumac



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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