from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. an antidote to a poison, especially to the venom of a snake

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or pertaining to theriac; medicinal.
  • n. An ancient composition esteemed efficacious against the effects of poison; especially, a certain compound of sixty-four drugs, prepared, pulverized, and reduced by means of honey to an electuary; -- called also theriaca Andromachi, and Venice treacle.
  • n. Treacle; molasses.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Same as theriacal.
  • n. A composition regarded as efficacious against the bites of poisonous animals; particularly, theriaca Andromachi, or Venice treacle, which is a compound of sixty to seventy or more drugs, prepared, pulverized, and reduced by the agency of honey to an electuary.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek θηριακή (thēriakē, "antidote") feminine form of θηριακός (thēriakos, "concerning venomous beasts"), from θήρ (thēr, "beast")


  • Only the other day I found in it theriac, meaning an old-fashioned antidote to venomous bites, which I deduced must exist for The Times jumbo crossword.

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol X No 1

  • And if someone has just asked for suggestions for the title of their latest book, or how pop-up books were made in the 1880s, or what were the ingredients of theriac a ‘cure’ for plague, you do, of course, feel duty bound to spend the morning helping out your friend rather than getting on with your work.

    Machines guns to the ready - writers get together

  • Gilchrist attended her shortly after with his little vial of theriac.

    My Devilish Scotsman

  • Canivet was about to administer some theriac, when they heard the cracking of a whip; all the windows rattled, and a post-chaise drawn by three horses abreast, up to their ears in mud, drove at a gallop round the corner of the market.

    Madame Bovary

  • This and the _Sedums album_ and _reflexum_ were ingredients in a famous worm-expelling medicine, or _theriac_ (treacle), which conferred the title

    Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure

  • Macedonia on foot, met the imperial personages, and prepared for them a medicine, for which he seems to have been famous, and which is spoken of as the _theriac_.

    Fathers of Biology

  • Therefore if you occasionally lapse into sin, do not lose heart and cease trying to advance, for God will draw good even out of our falls, like the merchant who sells theriac, who first takes poison, then the theriac, to prove the power of his elixir.

    The Interior Castle or The Mansions

  • Venetians are to pay to the emissary of the Pasha of Travnik on his way to Zadar, how much velvet, how many loaves of sugar and how many pots of theriac must be provided for each member of his entourage; and in the same treaty it is laid down that the Turks are to give up all those who have deserted to them, yea even if they have become

    The Birth of Yugoslavia, Volume 1

  • The most famous panacea, which dated from Roman imperial times and was used as late as the eighteenth century, was theriac, a mixture consisting of numerous ingredients, among them being the flesh of vipers.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 10: Mass Music-Newman

  • But we lawyers boil our theriac even nowadays and regard the most important study, the study of reality, with arrogance.

    Criminal Psychology: a manual for judges, practitioners, and students


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  • "The queen of all compound preparations was 'theriac,' a panacea by reason of the extraordinary number, quality, and in many cases, peculiar nature of its ingredients. Theriac began in the classical era as an antidote to poison and then became credited with the power of curing diseases as well as preventing their onset. The most celebrated medieval variety of theriac came from Montpellier, site of one of the most famous medical schools. Montpellier theriac contained no fewer than 83 ingredients, mostly aromatic exotics, and there was an annual ceremony in which these were displayed and then solemnly mixed to assure the public that only genuine substances were used."

    Paul Freedman, Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination (New Haven and London: Yale UP, 2008), 68

    More about the importance of Montpellier in spice trade history can be found on gingerbread. Also an interesting usage on electuary.

    December 2, 2016

  • "The best-known medieval medicines, and the lion's share of the spices, belonged to the rich. ... The poor man's theriac, according to Arnald de Vilanova, was garlic. By the twelfth century, the herb-spice differential seems to have been something of a cliché. John of Salisbury (ca. 1110-1180) cites 'an old proverb' that obtained 'among courtiers and physicians everywhere': In return for words we use mountain herbs; For things of value, spices and drugs.'"

    --Jack Turner, _Spice: The History of a Temptation_ (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), 173

    December 2, 2016

  • "It is a recurrent motif of the vitae (Lives of the Saints) to find the miracle-working saint having no need of spices, much to the astonishment and chagrin of the spice-reliant doctors. The plot is repeated time and again, the holy man or woman healing an illness that has defeated even the spices of the pigmentarius. ... A little more than a century before Bede's day, when Gregory of Tours sought a metaphor for divine intercession, he could think of none more apt than theriac, a legendary mix of herbs and spices reported to have saved the life of Mithridates VI, a king of Pontus in northern Anatolia who died in 63 B.C.* A hypochondriac, Mithridates took this secret mix every day, and so effective did it prove that when he tried to poison himself his most potent toxins were utterly nullified...

    " * The origin, incidentally, of the modern 'treacle.'"
    --Jack Turner, _Spice: The History of a Temptation_ (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), 162

    December 2, 2016

  • Ask poor Mother Eve, it goes way back.
    We sensibly dread the viper attack.
    But no asp can surpass
    The snake in the grass
    For whose venom there is no theriac.

    June 25, 2014

  • "A composition regarded as efficacious against the bites of poisonous animals; particularly, theriaca Andromachi, or Venice treacle, which is a compound of sixty to seventy or more drugs, prepared, pulverized, and reduced by the agency of honey to an electuary."


    Cf. mithridate or even confectio Damocritis.

    February 1, 2013

  • "Spectacle of vengeance and loathing, I remember my youth and the hilqa tradition, circular gatherings at Rahbat al-Ghanam, the eating of a live scorpion, treacherously struggling between the swallower's teeth: I don't deserve the sting you've inflicted, he shouts! Secure in his rights and in his organism's immunity thanks to vast experience with venomous stings and bites, deadly to the uninitiated, he raged and bit down on the creature, hideous cracking, attenuated by the highly active theriac, an ancestral potion in use among those who fraternize with venom-dispensing reptiles: solidarity, philter of perils, syrup mixed with blood such that the body adapts unharmed to more lethal toxins."

    Talismano by Abdelwaheb Meddeb, translated by Jane Kuntz, p 134 of the Dalkey Archive Press paperback

    September 26, 2011

  • According to legends, the history of theriac begins with the king Mithridates VI of Pontus who experimented with poisons and antidotes on his prisoners. His numerous toxicity experiments eventually led him to declare that he had discovered an antidote for every venomous reptile and poisonous substance.

    January 30, 2009

  • Seen on word porn.

    October 30, 2008

  • 1. a mixture of many drugs and honey formerly held to be an antidote to poison

    2. cure-all

    October 2, 2008