sweet gum


: a North American tree (Liquidambar styraciflua) of the witch-hazel family with palmately lobed glossy green leaves, corky twigs, a round spiny brown fruit cluster, and hard wood
: the smooth reddish-brown wood of the sweet gum

Illustration of sweet gum

Illustration of sweet gum
  • sweet gum 1

Examples of sweet gum in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Large flocks of American robins filled the large sweet gum trees, some singing while others uttered their laughing-like call. Taylor Piephoff, Charlotte Observer, 31 Jan. 2024 On our first trip to England in 2006, my wife and I discovered by accident a sweet gum tree growing not far from our bed-and-breakfast in Kensington, in west London. John Kelly, Washington Post, 2 Dec. 2023 Things can go sideways when the leaves are damp; if there is plentiful debris mixed with the leaves, such as pine needles, acorns, sweet gum seed pods, locust seed pods, acorns, and twigs; or if the wind is either steady and unfavorable or shifts around a lot. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, 10 July 2023 Otherwise, shade-tolerant plants, like red maple and sweet gum, outcompete the local species. Jamie Dickman, Popular Science, 14 June 2023 They’re also being planted alongside native trees like sweet gum, tulip trees and bald cypress, to avoid genetically identical stands of trees known as monocultures; non-engineered poplars are being planted as experimental controls. Gabriel Popkin Audra Melton, New York Times, 16 Feb. 2023 Hike more than 18 miles of trails through flowering dogwood and sweet gum trees (read: gorgeous fall color). Alison Van Houten, Outside Online, 6 June 2019 Approved by the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, the 11 species of Ohio native trees include red bud, sweet gum, Ohio buckeye, burr oak, black walnut, chinkapin, tulip, hackberry, shingle oak, tupelo and Amelanchier. John Benson, cleveland, 26 May 2022 The other sweet gum trees around are not dropping limbs. oregonlive, 13 Mar. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sweet gum.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1700, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of sweet gum was in 1700

Dictionary Entries Near sweet gum

Cite this Entry

“Sweet gum.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sweet%20gum. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

sweet gum

: a North American tree that has lobed leaves, hard wood, and a long-stemmed woody round fruit
also : its wood

Medical Definition

sweet gum

: a North American tree of the genus Liquidambar (L. styraciflua) with a round spiny brown fruit cluster and an inner bark that is the source of American storax

More from Merriam-Webster on sweet gum

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!