su·​mac | \ˈshü-ˌmak, 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 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 This is a major way to distinguish phytophotodermatitis from contact dermatitis, an allergic skin reaction that can happen in response to the more usual suspects such as poison ivy, oak, or sumac. Zahra Barnes, SELF, "Beware of Phytophotodermatitis, The Weird Sun Reaction That Could Definitely Ruin Your Summer," 18 Aug. 2018 Some of them include: glossy abelia, beauty berries, hydrangeas, Bradford and Callery pears, crabapples, poplar, spruce, junipers, sumacs, cherries, and plums. Leah Zerbe, Good Housekeeping, "Why You Should Stop Pruning Your Garden in the Fall," 8 Aug. 2018 This twist on hummus combines roasted carrots with sumac, honey, garlic, and tahini with crave-worthy results. Vitamix, Bon Appetit, "Sumac-Roasted Carrot Dip," 11 June 2018 While the grill is on, set a few rounds of Indian naan on the rack to heat them, then sprinkle with za’atar, a Middle Eastern herb mix containing sesame seed, sumac, dried hyssop or thyme, and other aromatics. Sally Pasley Vargas,, "Prepare several mezze plates for this rehearsal dinner, which won’t cost a crazy amount of money," 4 June 2018 Combine with the sumac, a splash of olive oil and a small pinch of salt. Sarah Fritsche,, "Recipe: Tawla’s Fattoush," 3 July 2018 Mulholland Ridge tilted back toward gold, more opaque, and heavy on toyon and sumac. Josh Lurie, Los Angeles Magazine, "Honey Made by Bees in Different Parts of L.A. All Tastes Wonderfully Different," 25 June 2018 Gluten, dairy, and added sugar are replaced with fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins in easy-to-follow recipes such as salmon with cilantro lime sauce and chipotle turkey chili with cucumber sumac salad. Zoe Ruffner, Vogue, "5 New Healthy Meal-Delivery Programs, Just In Time for Summer," 11 July 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


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6 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for sumac

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

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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, ˈshü-​ \

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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a nest or breeding place

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