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Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Oct 17, 2013 10:35 pm

• treacle •

Pronunciation: tree-kêl • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Golden syrup, syrup that remains after sugar is refined. Molasses is called black treacle 2. Words that are sweet and cloying, overly solicitous flattery. 3. A set of medicinal cures or antidote for many maladies.

Notes: Treacle is not a word frequently encountered in the US, but it is alive and well in other parts of the English-speaking world. It is particularly known as an ingredient of treacle tarts, a favorite among children in the UK. It comes with one relation, the adjective and adverb treacly.

In Play: In the UK this word is used most often as an attribute of tart: "Marian Kine plied me with treacle tarts, knowing my weakness for them." However, the figurative sense is also widely popular: "He begged me with such treacle in his voice, I felt sticky afterwards."

Word History: When it entered English from Old French as triacle, today's Good Word meant "antidote for poison". French inherited this word from Latin theriaca. Latin borrowed the word from Greek theriake "antidote against a venomous bite", the feminine of theriakos "of wild animals" from therion "small animal", the diminutive of ther "beast". The ancient word that turned into ther in Greek, came out as fera "wild animal" in Latin. English added an L to this word and claimed it as feral "wild". We then borrowed the adjective of fera, ferus, after it had been laundered by French to fiers, as English fierce. Oh, yes. I almost forgot: Latin had another word from the same source, ferox (feroc-s) "fierce" that we confiscated for English ferocious. (Now for a not too treacly word of gratitude to David McWethy of Fayetteville, Arkansas, for recommending today's Good Word.)
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Re: Treacle

Postby gailr » Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:18 am

I first encountered this word in Lewis Carroll:
`They lived on treacle,' said the Dormouse, after thinking a minute or two.

I mentally pronounced it as tree′sill. Quite a surprise to hear it correctly, much later on -- can't decide whether the correct pronunciation sounds less sweet or more cloying.
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Re: Treacle

Postby Philip Hudson » Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:26 am

Gail, You beat me to the posting. I was all prepared to comment on the girls in the well who lived on treacle. Remember Alice replied that it was impossible because one could not live on treacle alone.
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Re: Treacle

Postby MTC » Fri Oct 18, 2013 4:55 am

A much sweeter subject than defalcation.

Treacle brings to mind sugar cane syrup ("cane syrup" to the real people) we city kids used to sample fresh from Uncle Jack's still, deep in the piney woods of Georgia. Bumping along an iron-rich red clay trail in a pickup truck on a summer's day, we could smell the still before we could see it. Sweet, of course, but richer and thicker somehow than the touted but tame Vermont Maple Syrup we poured over our pancakes back home in Miami. The still itself was not a particularly imposing structure, but a low-slung shed about fifty or sixty feet long as I recall, with a corrugated tin roof covering machinery which ground stalks of sugar cane into a paste, extracting raw syrup which traveled down a heated sluiceway in stages, until it was purified into the ambrosia mortals call "cane syrup." Like a band of outlaws, we kids intercepted the syrup along the way before it could be bottled, eagerly scooping it from the sluice with sticks of sugar cane, greedily licking the syrup from the sticks until we were sated. The adults must have looked on with vicarious satisfaction I now imagine, though at the time I was too busy to notice. A kid's treacly dream come true.
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Re: Treacle

Postby call_copse » Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:25 am

I've pretty fond memories of simple freshly squeezed sugar cane juice - it's fresher and nicer than I would have thought.

Anyhow Treacle is commonly used as a pet name particularly in the north of England, perhaps mostly an adult addressing a child.
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Re: Treacle

Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Oct 18, 2013 12:17 pm

It is terribly foreign to me. I first ran into it in
Anne Perry's novels, featuring Wm. Monk mysteries.
I'd like to experience the true British version of it.
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Re: Treacle

Postby gailr » Fri Oct 18, 2013 11:37 pm

call_copse wrote:Anyhow Treacle is commonly used as a pet name particularly in the north of England, perhaps mostly an adult addressing a child.

hmmmm, that might come in handy the next time a salesclerk or waiter calls me 'sweetie' or 'honey'. :D
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