trea·​cle ˈtrē-kəl How to pronounce treacle (audio)
chiefly British
: a blend of molasses, invert sugar, and corn syrup used as syrup

called also golden syrup

: something (such as a tone of voice) heavily sweet and cloying
: a medicinal compound formerly in wide use as a remedy against poison

Did you know?

Treacle begins in ancient Greece. The Greek word thēriakos, meaning "of a wild animal," came from thērion ("wild animal"). Since wild animals are often known to bite, these words gave rise to thēriakē, meaning "antidote against a poisonous bite." Latin borrowed thēriakē as theriaca. Those roots gave life to treacle referring to molasses (developing from the "antidote" sense). The "molasses" sense was extended to things excessively sweet or sentimental.

Example Sentences

The book is ruined by all the treacle about his childhood.
Recent Examples on the Web For those who need a little dose of Halloween to cut through the Christmas treacle, this stop-motion movie from the mind of Tim Burton shows what happens when vampires, skeletons and witches take over the Christmas season. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, 27 Sep. 2022 Rich and robust flavors of oranges, white pears and slight treacle as well as a resounding finish and wafting length. Tom Mullen, Forbes, 31 July 2022 Some treacle and toast and licorice midpalate, and orange sorbet on the finish. Tom Mullen, Forbes, 22 May 2022 Mid palate is a meld of treacle and black cherries. Tom Mullen, Forbes, 3 July 2022 Quite lovely, as was this entire cast, with Anna Marie Abbate provided just enough edge to cut the treacle. Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune, 27 June 2022 Creamy in the mouth, with raspberries on the attack, then mint and treacle and prunes mid palate. Tom Mullen, Forbes, 31 Oct. 2021 Mirth mingles with melancholy; as Buddy’s gently bickering grandparents, Ciarán Hinds and Judi Dench hit just the right notes of treacle and vinegar. Los Angeles Times, 11 Nov. 2021 The top-note is aromatic and savory, hinting at a vintage solera wine; herbal notes of fenugreek leaf and parsley float above a very light suggestion of liquorice, with some treacle toffee in the base. Emily Price, Forbes, 4 May 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'treacle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English triacle, from Anglo-French, from Latin theriaca, from Greek thēriakē antidote against a poisonous bite, from feminine of thēriakos of a wild animal, from thērion wild animal, diminutive of thēr wild animal — more at fierce

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of treacle was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near treacle

Cite this Entry

“Treacle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


trea·​cle ˈtrē-kəl How to pronounce treacle (audio)
chiefly British

Medical Definition


trea·​cle ˈtrē-kəl How to pronounce treacle (audio)
: a medicinal compound formerly in wide use as a remedy against poison

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