the·​ri·​ac | \ ˈthir-ē-ˌak How to pronounce theriac (audio) \

Definition of theriac

1 : theriaca
2 : cure-all

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A Theriac for What Ails You

There really is no such thing as a single remedy for all that ails us. But that hasn't kept English speakers from creating not just a single word, but several words, that mean "cure-all": catholicon, elixir, nostrum, panacea, and today's word, theriac. When we first used theriac, it meant "an antidote for poison"—for any and all poisons, that is. That's how our Roman and Greek forebears used their theriaca and thēriakē, which derive ultimately from thēr, the Greek word for "wild animal." The first theriac was supposedly created by the first-century Greek physician Andromachus, whose concoction consisted of some 70 drugs pulverized with honey. Medieval physicians created even more elaborate theriacs to dose a plague-dreading populace, for whom the possibility of a cure-all didn't seem too wild a notion at all.

Examples of theriac in a Sentence

the wizard's attempts to concoct a theriac for the king came to naught

First Known Use of theriac

1568, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for theriac

New Latin theriaca

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Time Traveler for theriac

Time Traveler

The first known use of theriac was in 1568

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Cite this Entry

“Theriac.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for theriac


the·​ri·​ac | \ ˈthir-ē-ˌak How to pronounce theriac (audio) \

Medical Definition of theriac


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