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 Zaatar is a spice blend with sumac and herbs, like oregano, thyme, salt and marjoram. Rita Nader Heikenfeld, The Enquirer, 29 July 2022 Sprinkle with the sumac and drizzle with 1/4 cup of the dressing. Joe Yonan, Washington Post, 24 July 2022 Sprinkle the parsley and mint over the dish and top with the sumac. Reem Assil, Robb Report, 11 June 2022 Our intent with Susurrus was always to always treat the fruit as a compliment to the botanical component of the beer, never drowning or dominating the delicate yarrow and sumac qualities. Hartford Courant, 17 June 2022 According to Miller’s research, the earliest mention of red drink on the mainland dates to the 1870s South, where Black Americans colored lemonade red with strawberries, sumac or tartaric acid. Sahar Khan, Smithsonian Magazine, 20 May 2022 The spread featured red cliff trout from Lake Superior smoked and shredded, a white bean dip made from Tepary beans, fresh tostada chips and a sauce of wild berries and sumac. Chloe Sorvino, Forbes, 17 May 2022 Instead of the traditional garlic, onion, poppy and sesame seeds, the blend includes sumac, turmeric, maras chile flakes, blue cornflower, sea salt, and sesame, fennel, and black nigella seeds. Ann Trieger Kurland,, 14 June 2022 The spice sumac represents the sunrise, and serkeh, or vinegar, represents patience. Leyla Shokoohe, The Enquirer, 21 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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

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

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Dictionary Entries Near sumac



sumac family

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Last Updated

6 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sumac.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for sumac


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 sumac (audio) , ˈshü-​ How to pronounce sumac (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

More from Merriam-Webster on sumac

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


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