verb (used with object)

  1. to treat (a dead body) so as to preserve it, as with chemicals, drugs, or balsams.
  2. to preserve from oblivion; keep in memory: his deeds embalmed in the hearts of his disciples.
  3. to cause to remain unchanged; prevent the development of.
  4. to impart a balmy fragrance to.

verb (tr)

  1. to treat (a dead body) with preservatives, as by injecting formaldehyde into the blood vessels, to retard putrefaction
  2. to preserve or cherish the memory of
  3. poetic to give a sweet fragrance to

mid-14c., from Middle French embaumer “preserve (a corpse) with spices,” from en- “in” (see en- (1)) + baume “balm” (see balm) + -er verbal suffix. The -l- inserted in English 1500s in imitation of Latin. Related: Embalmed; embalming.


  1. To treat a corpse with preservatives in order to prevent decay.
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