Definition of treacle in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtrēk(ə)l/


1 British term for molasses.
Example sentences
  • An innovation confined mainly to Britain was treacle or molasses from sugar cane.
  • Mix together the egg, 125g muscovado sugar, treacle, buttermilk and remaining butter until smooth.
  • Well, a rum baba and a treacle tart were atypically heavy.
2Cloying sentimentality or flattery: enough of this treacle—let’s get back to business
More example sentences
  • All this loss - of innocence, of dearly loved creatures - and yet, there is not a word of sentimentality or taste of treacle.
  • In such a time, his greatest mistake is not sweetening his logic with sentimental treacle.
  • Without any sentimental treacle, I cried all the way through.


Middle English (originally denoting an antidote against venom): from Old French triacle, via Latin from Greek thēriakē 'antidote against venom', feminine of thēriakos (adjective), from thērion 'wild beast'. The sense 'molasses' dates from the late 17th century; 'sentimentality' arose in the late 18th century.

  • It is now a kind of syrup, but treacle was originally an antidote against poison. When the word entered medieval English from Old French triacle, which went back to Greek thērion ‘wild beast’, it was a term for an ointment made with many ingredients that counteracted venom. The idea of an antidote extended into that of a remedy or medicine, and later, by way of the sugar syrup used to make a medicine more palatable, into the current sense at the end of the 17th century. Lewis Carroll played on the healing sense when he wrote about treacle wells in Alice in Wonderland, for he was referring to a real, ancient healing well at Binsey just outside Oxford.

Words that rhyme with treacle

faecal (US fecal)

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: trea·cle

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