late 14c., embaumen "to apply balm or ointment; to embalm a corpse," from Old French embaumer, earlier embausmer, "preserve (a corpse) with spices," from assimilated form of en- "in" (see en- (1)) + baume "balm" (see balm) + verbal suffix -er. Balm in Middle English also had a specific sense of "aromatic preparation for embalming dead bodies." The -l- was inserted in English 1500s in imitation of Latin. Related: Embalmed; embalming.
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