Definition of licorice in US English:


(British liquorice)


  • 1A sweet, chewy, aromatic black substance made by evaporation from the juice of a root and used as a candy and in medicine.

    • ‘Also scoring high was the erotic mix of black licorice and doughnut.’
    • ‘Smooth and very drinkable, this delivers subtle notes of aniseed, liquorice, spice and lemon peel.’
    • ‘The most effective scents for getting a genuine physical reaction were mixtures of lavender and pumpkin pie, doughnut and black liquorice, and pumpkin pie and doughnut.’
    • ‘They come in all sorts of flavours, including apple, honey, mint, grape, melon, pistachio, black licorice, cappuccino and fakhfakhina, a mix of exotic fruit and whipped cream.’
    • ‘Occasionally, the ingestion of black licorice, lead, iron supplements, or blueberries can cause black stool and false melena.’
    • ‘A mix of liquorice, black fruits and farmyards tempt the nose.’
    • ‘The asphalt is sticky black licorice and the traffic lights pulse to a blind man's marching tune.’
    • ‘Caffeine and even excessive black licorice may keep your blood pressure elevated.’
    • ‘After my years of literally swallowing the homeopathic conviction that licorice is the root of all health, the prospect of sipping parsley soup seasoned with the sticky elixir prompted a fit of involuntary grimacing.’
    • ‘A whoosh of freshly ground mocha coffee hits the nose and then, once the wine hits your mouth, it's joined by black fruits, liquorice, spice and a spray of refreshing acidity.’
    • ‘An occasional treat rarely causes people any trouble, but those who eat black licorice regularly can experience hormone imbalance and potassium loss.’
    • ‘In traditional Chinese medicine, licorice is known as a healing agent; and Europeans use it in cough suppressants and in ulcer medications.’
    • ‘Although this combines powerful cherry notes, threaded with liquorice, backed by chewy tannins and topped with sparkling acidity, it is not yet ready to drink.’
    • ‘Just a handful of black licorice on a regular basis can reduce the amount of potassium in the body and may lead to fluid retention, not to mention irregular heart rhythms.’
    • ‘Another possible health benefit: An acid present in black licorice, glycyrrhizin, has been used in Japan for more than 20 years as a treatment for chronic hepatitis.’
    • ‘They breathe a refreshing complexity of black currant, blueberry, black cherry and kirsch, intermingled with violet, cocoa, coffee, pepper, licorice, and warm spices.’
    • ‘I loved black licorice, but it raised my eye pressure nearly off the charts.’
    • ‘Her eyes were as black as licorice, and her pale, pale skin was covered in men's clothing.’
    • ‘The drink is made using the root blended with ingredients like liquorice and ginger to create a cordial.’
    • ‘My daughter and I both crave it, but I understand that black licorice could be harmful.’
    1. 1.1 A candy flavored with licorice.
      as modifier ‘licorice gumdrops’
      • ‘If the ritual centers around the oral fixation, and not the tobacco or the smoke itself, you could substitute a lollipop, licorice or hard sour candy for the cigarette.’
      • ‘Inside this nearly inedible shell is a reasonably tasty caramelized banana concoction, which is made off-putting by a scattering of slices of black licorice.’
      • ‘The wheelchair was made of black and red licorice and the wheels were made of humbugs.’
      • ‘Nearly eight years after Victory in Europe, the limit on jelly babies, pastilles, liquorice, barley sugar sticks, lemonade powder and chocolate bars was finally lifted - and a nation of schoolchildren cheered.’
      • ‘A bag of suckers, chocolate cupcakes, caramels, jawbreakers and licorice all went into the bag first.’
      • ‘Erin also made it a point to treat her sweet tooth every day with a small piece of chocolate, hard candy or licorice.’
      • ‘Fill a pail with your choice of 300 different kinds of candy sold by the pound, including caramels, licorice, and atomic fireballs.’
      • ‘She brought homemade caramels, homemade licorice, pumpkin bread, cranberry orange bread, butter cream cookies, baklava and so many other things I can't really remember it all.’
      • ‘If our diets consisted of only 800 calories then it wouldn't matter if you were eating Pez candies and licorice, you would still lose weight.’
  • 2The widely distributed plant of the pea family from which licorice is obtained.

    Genus Glycyrrhiza, family Leguminosae; many species are used locally to obtain licorice, the chief commercial source being the cultivated G. glabra

    • ‘Glycyrrhizin, a triterpenoid compound, accounts for the sweet taste of licorice root.’
    • ‘This is due to the licorice in the formula and is not attributed to peony.’
    • ‘Herbal treatments may include garlic, eucalyptus, licorice, lobelia, marshmallow, red clover and saw palmetto.’
    • ‘The licorice root is a widely used herb which provides soothing benefits.’
    • ‘Liquid formulas and pills containing such herbs as spirulina and milk thistle, chlorophyll, red clover, echinacea and licorice root are ingested.’
    • ‘Glycyrrhiza glabra, or licorice (not the candy), is one of the premier Chinese adaptogenic herbs, now utilized worldwide for a variety of conditions.’
    • ‘The most commonly used herb in Chinese medicine, licorice has a number of health benefits.’
    • ‘Prepare 1,000 grams of mutton, 10 grams of licorice root and 10 grams of Chinese angelica (both available in Chinese drugstores).’
    • ‘Containing dandelion, burdock, sarsparilla, milk thistle, liquorice, yellow dock, turmeric and red clover, a bottle provides about 30 servings as you dilute it with either still or sparkling water.’
    • ‘Several herbs also help rebalance the female endocrine system, including angelica (dong quai), licorice root, black cohosh, and chasteberries.’
    • ‘Stepping into the chemists shop with its huge glass bottles of green and purple liquid, jars of liquorice root and its distinctive smell of carbolic soap took me straight back to my grandmother's house.’
    • ‘New herbs introduced to the already comprehensive range for this year include lemon basil, pineapple sage, aniseed basil, liquorice and comfrey.’
    • ‘For example, you can satisfy a sugar craving with a tea sweetened by licorice root.’


Middle English: from Old French licoresse, from late Latin liquiritia, from Greek glukurrhiza, from glukus ‘sweet’ + rhiza ‘root’.