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 textile artist Megumi Shauna Arai dyed her patchwork noren, traditional Japanese fabric room dividers, with dahlias and marigolds from the cutting garden, sumac from the woods and leftover onion skins from the Blue Hill kitchen. New York Times, "Looking for a Weekend Excursion? Try Craft Shop Hopping," 30 Apr. 2021 Add the oil, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, Aleppo pepper, salt, sumac and pepper flakes if using and process until all the ingredients are fully combined. Janelle Bitker, San Francisco Chronicle, "Vegan cookbook from Wildseed chef in San Francisco gets creative. Here are 5 tips," 12 Apr. 2021 Meanwhile, on a rimmed baking sheet, brush both sides of pita rounds with 2 tablespoons oil, then sprinkle evenly with 2 teaspoons sumac. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "Fattoush with chicken is perfect solution for stale flatbreads," 20 Apr. 2021 Marco lives near Glendale and its Armenian community, which resulted in the addition of sumac yogurt. Stephanie Breijo, Los Angeles Times, "At this cafe and corner store, it’s all about ‘putting money back into where we live’," 20 Apr. 2021 Shredded halloumi, fresh herbs, crunchy nuts and citrusy touches from lemon and sumac make this aromatic dish a simple, tasty weeknight winner. Washington Post, "6 recipes that use halloumi cheese in all its squeaky, salty glory," 12 Apr. 2021 This dish is inspired by Ana Sortun, who often uses the za’atar spice blend — which typically includes sesame seeds, sumac, thyme, oregano, marjoram, and salt — at her Oleana restaurant in Cambridge., "Recipes: A weeknight meal that makes the most of classic Middle Eastern ingredients," 7 Apr. 2021 As with all spice blends, recipes vary widely depending on the region and the cook, but most include ground sumac berries for acidity, toasted sesame seeds for their rich, earthy notes, and a little salt. Melissa Clark, New York Times, "For Maximum Flavor, Make These Spice Blends at Home," 22 Feb. 2021 Think: mac and cheese made with couscous, brisket rubbed with sumac, and Brussels slaw with apricots. Kara Baskin,, "Top restaurants for takeout south of Boston," 11 Feb. 2021

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

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

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Last Updated

14 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sumac.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2021.

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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 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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