trea·​cle | \ ˈtrē-kəl How to pronounce treacle (audio) \

Definition of treacle

1 chiefly British
a : molasses
b : a blend of molasses, invert sugar, and corn syrup used as syrup

called also golden syrup

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

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The long history of "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," and the word eventually entered Anglo-French - and then Middle English - as "triacle." The senses of "treacle" that refer to molasses developed from the earlier "antidote" sense. The "molasses" sense, in turn, was extended to give us a word for things excessively sweet or sentimental.

Examples of treacle in a Sentence

The book is ruined by all the treacle about his childhood.
Recent Examples on the Web 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 This approximately two-thirds Merlot and one-third Cabernet Franc blend includes commanding and ebullient but dense and rich aromas of rich ripe red cherries, plums, blueberries, figs and treacle. Tom Mullen, Forbes, 10 May 2021 However—the wine aligns: Distinct, precise and redolent aromas of black fruit, brownies, moist earth, slight mint, treacle and licorice. Tom Mullen, Forbes, 10 May 2021 This clear-eyed perspective on the line between the past and the present runs throughout the book, which threads together Cornish pasties, treacle tarts, seed cake, and all the other greats of the British baking canon. Helen Rosner, The New Yorker, 15 Dec. 2020 The writers of aphoristic treacle are no more innocent than the purveyors of sugary drinks. Washington Post, 11 Nov. 2020 Just remember the treacle tart to go with your cuppa. Rochelle O'gorman, The Christian Science Monitor, 2 Oct. 2020 Fake news then meant rumours that the plague could be cured by sitting in a sewer, eating decade-old treacle or ingesting arsenic. The Economist, 6 June 2020 To be clear, Marc, who is allergic to treacle, would never have cast himself as a do-gooder. Susan Dominus, New York Times, 21 Mar. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of treacle

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for treacle

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

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Time Traveler for treacle

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near treacle



treacle mold

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Cite this Entry

“Treacle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for treacle



English Language Learners Definition of treacle

: a blend of molasses, sugar, and corn syrup
: something that is annoying because it is too sentimental


trea·​cle | \ ˈtrē-kəl How to pronounce treacle (audio) \

Medical Definition of treacle

: a medicinal compound formerly in wide use as a remedy against poison

More from Merriam-Webster on treacle Encyclopedia article about treacle


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