General English

General Science

  • noun a liquid substance in the trunks and branches of some trees, which hardens on contact with air. It is used in confectionery, pharmacy and stationery.


  • A polysaccharide, usually obtained from plants in water solution with sticky and gelling properties. The common types of vegetable origin are gum arabic, gum tragacanth, guar gum, locust bean gum and xanthan gum.


  • noun the soft tissue covering the part of the jaw which surrounds the teeth


  • noun a type of glue which is made from plant resin

Origin & History of “gum”

English has three words gum. The oldest, ‘tissue surrounding the teeth’ (OE), originally meant ‘mucous lining of the mouth and throat’; its present-day meaning did not emerge until the 14th century. It is not clear where it came from, although it is related to German gaumen ‘roof of the mouth’, and perhaps to Lithuanian gomurys ‘gum’ and even Latin fauces ‘throat’ (source of English suffocate). Gum ‘sticky material’ (14th c.) comes ultimately from Egyptian kemai, which passed into English via Greek kómmi, Latin cummi or gummi, vulgar Latin *gumma, and Old French gomme. And gum in the exclamation by gum (19th c.) is a euphemistic alteration of god.