Definition of sugar in US English:



  • 1A sweet crystalline substance obtained from various plants, especially sugar cane and sugar beet, consisting essentially of sucrose, and used as a sweetener in food and drink.

    • ‘Refined foods, foods high in sugar and white flour are also a problem.’
    • ‘Small amounts of sugar may be required to take away the sharpness from fruit purées such as gooseberry and rhubarb - but avoid adding sugar to food and drinks.’
    • ‘A NIH study in 1982 tested the theory that refined sugar and food additives make children hyperactive and inattentive.’
    • ‘Tooth decay is caused by the bacteria in dental plaque breaking down sugar in the foods and drinks that you eat and drink.’
    • ‘In a separate bowl, sift together sugar, flour, baking powder and baking soda.’
    • ‘Many people, myself included, find bursts of sugar in savory food highly unpleasant.’
    • ‘So it is crucial to monitor your intake of glucose from starchy foods (bread, rice and potatoes), sugar and other sweet foods.’
    • ‘Add dried sweet osmanthus and crystal sugar to taste.’
    • ‘A wine-like beverage can be made from almost any fruit, berry, or other plant material containing sugar.’
    • ‘This is why a bowl of sugar remains essentially unchanged for months or even years, although it is exposed to copious amounts of oxygen during that time.’
    • ‘Whisk together flour, oats, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.’
    • ‘One of the first dietary rules for all diabetics is to avoid all sugar and foods containing sugar, such as pastry, candy and soft drinks.’
    • ‘Part of the problem is that increasingly health-conscious consumers see Coke as a drink packed with sugar and chemical sweeteners and not much else.’
    • ‘Commonly used sweeteners include honey, sugar, maple and corn syrup among others.’
    • ‘Fried foods, very spicy foods and foods containing too much sugar, such as sweets, can cause health problems and should be limited during Ramadan.’
    • ‘Processed foods that contain refined sugar and white flour are fast carbohydrates.’
    • ‘Your daughter might try avoiding foods like candy, cookies, French fries, potato chips, sugar and white flour to see if it helps her complexion.’
    • ‘Fast-burning foods include foods that contain sugar and white flour.’
    • ‘In a small bowl, whisk together lime and orange juices, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar and jalapeno.’
    • ‘Because honey is essentially made of sugar and very little else, it is probably not a thing to be having in quantity in the diet.’
    1. 1.1 A lump or teaspoonful of this, used to sweeten tea or coffee.
      ‘I'll have mine black with two sugars’
      • ‘The press officer asks if he would like a coffee. ‘Black but half a cup and, um, a sugar please.’’
      • ‘Sitting by the window at a table for two, Elliot began stirring his coffee while looking for a third sugar to add into it.’
      • ‘From now on I'm putting one sugar in my coffee instead of two, and half a sugar in my tea instead of one.’
      • ‘As I got the coffee, I told the guy behind the counter, make sure you mark them because I will kill you if I get a coffee with seven sugars.’
      • ‘‘Black, two sugars, help yourself,’ Colin said pushing his mug towards her.’
      • ‘I got it just the way you like it - medium French vanilla coffee with milk and 2 sugars.’
      • ‘As a young boy, that meant giving up sitting in front of the TV with my cup of coffee, 2 sugars and a biscuit (these were the comforts of my life at that time).’
      • ‘Fiona, who despite taking 5 sugars in a coffee every morning, claims not to have a sweet tooth decided against a pastry and instead ordered a club sandwich and a glass of wine.’
      • ‘She always had a coffee with her when she did this and she always ordered the same thing: a small coffee, two sugars.’
      • ‘His first contact with Daryl Somers was in 1996, when Daryl asked Rove to get him a coffee - flat white, two sugars.’
      • ‘It's down to all these,’ he says pointing at the sugars he pours into his coffee.’
      • ‘I do hope Joleen managed to remember the correct number of sugars for the coffee.’
      • ‘He grinned broadly, just like Blake did. ‘White coffee, no sugars, coming right up!’’
      • ‘‘Strong, black, and two sugars,’ I muttered, turning back and starting away.’
      • ‘Inside, he filled his coffee cup (two sugars, one cream), picked out a nicely glazed cream filled doughnut, and walked over to the magazine rack.’
      • ‘Well, I'd watch you prepare your coffee and it was always black, 2 sugars, no cream.’
      • ‘I kept the fire going so that I could make Elvis cups of coffee which he preferred milky with four sugars.’
      • ‘Most days people want tea but today one of the guys asked me for some hazelnut-flavoured coffee with milk and three sugars.’
      • ‘You are now handed a fork and serviette when you buy some hot food from the buffet, and the sugars, spoons and stirrers are kept next to the coffee machine for only those purchasing a hot drink to take.’
      • ‘Mr Morrigon's secretary was at her side muttering platitudes about the weather and asking her how many sugars she'd like in her coffee.’
  • 2Biochemistry
    Any of the class of soluble, crystalline, typically sweet-tasting carbohydrates found in living tissues and exemplified by glucose and sucrose.

    • ‘In the warm, humid tropics, where humans evolved, yeasts on the fruit skin and within the fruit convert sugars into various forms of alcohol, the most common being ethanol.’
    • ‘Consume these sugars a half-hour before and immediately after your workouts.’
    • ‘The extent to which sugars move across the plasma membranes of embryo-derived protoplasts during isolation, suspension, and drying is not known and merits further investigation.’
    • ‘Complex sugars coat almost every cell in the body, as well as microbes that cause disease.’
    • ‘The purpose of digestion is to break down complex molecules into simple ones such as sugars, fats, and peptides.’
  • 3North American informal Used as a term of endearment or an affectionate form of address.

    ‘what's wrong, sugar?’
    • ‘Well yes, compared to the drab fifties and khaki they probably were, but today their colours seem to be seen through a sepia veneer, and, sugar, that doesn't do it for me.’
    • ‘‘Look at me, sugar’, he said.’
    darling, sweetheart, dearest, dear
    View synonyms
  • 4informal as exclamation Used as a euphemism for “shit.”.

    • ‘Spoken and written substitutes for the word in American English include sugar, sheesh, shoot, and shucks, as in the constructions: Oh, sugar! Aww, shucks!’
    damn, damnation, blast, hell, heck, gordon bennett
    View synonyms
  • 5informal A psychoactive drug in the form of white powder, especially heroin or cocaine.


[with object]
  • 1Sweeten, sprinkle, or coat with sugar.

    ‘she absentmindedly sugared her tea’
    ‘sugared almonds’
    • ‘Start by buttering and sugaring your ramekins, all the way to the top.’
    • ‘What is happening in both cases is price - Coke play hard to get by saying that you can only have their sugared water by paying a huge premium over cost.’
    • ‘While the gaily coloured and richly sugared chocolate eggs that we enjoy are recent in origin, the real egg, decorated with colours or gilt, has been acknowledged as a symbol of continuing life and resurrection since long.’
    • ‘For pure indulgence she liked milky, liberally sugared tea and rich cocoa.’
    • ‘They were heavily sugared, quite unlike later types of bottled fruit in syrup.’
    • ‘More, he was appalled to discover what they thought tea was: heavily sugared and poured into a glass, with peach slices at the bottom.’
    • ‘Many meth users turn to sugared sodas to alleviate ‘dry mouth,’ and the sugar only fuels the decay-causing bacteria.’
    • ‘This is not a place where the wise diner orders fajitas (they have been uniformly tough) or the sopaipilla dessert, which resembles nothing so much as sugared snippets of frozen bread dough.’
    • ‘We stopped at a warung by the side of the road and sipped hot Balinese coffee, heavily sugared as we devoured the massive valleys falling away before us.’
    • ‘It has a delicious malty aroma with hints of heather and honey and rich, sweet, nutty undertones like sugared almonds or peanut brittle.’
    • ‘Oh, but blimey, while we were in there we saw chocolate ants, and chocolate locusts, and sugared scorpions.’
    • ‘Three years ago, cynics doubted the animal rights campaigner's commitment to his fast, after it transpired he had sipped sugared tea and orange juice in York District Hospital.’
    • ‘Visitors to the show will receive a lace bag of wedding favours, five sugared almonds which traditionally convey blessing, with a Bible text inside.’
    • ‘Sweetened bitterness, such as sugared espresso, for example, satiates the appetite, while savoury sourness, such as hot-and-sour soup, can stimulate hunger and highlight texture.’
    • ‘‘The most predominant products marketed to children are sugared cereals, candies, sweets, sodas and snack foods,’ he added.’
    • ‘He has been taking only fruit juice and sugared tea and coffee, in protest at constant camera surveillance of his cell.’
    • ‘There was no wedding cake, no sugared almonds and we were allowed to wear black.’
    • ‘There's must-have chocolate, sugared cookies, even splashy sips of champagne or sparkling fruit juice over teensy scoops of sorbet.’
    • ‘It is now strongly suspected that one major culprit is sugared colas,’ they wrote.’
    • ‘Or was that tingle of joy more reminiscent of sitting in front of the tv on a Saturday morning, eating sugared cereal and watching cartoons for hours?’
  • 2Make more agreeable or palatable.

    ‘the novel was preachy but sugared heavily with jokes’
    • ‘To sugar the educational pill, you have the world's most idyllic beaches and tastiest cuisine.’
    • ‘In his act the pill of political polemic may be sugared with a sprinkling of dirty jokes, but it's always there.’
    • ‘By having us scroll across the screen to march through the desert or turn night to day, he makes his comic a digital playpen, sugaring the story with animation and reinventing the way comics are written and read.’
    • ‘The jaunty melodies sugar over the desperation of the lyrics.’
    • ‘She is the least regretted politician in the country, so her departure sugars the loss of Scotland's presence in British government.’
    • ‘The Hollande leadership has given up resistance to neo-liberal policies - at best proposing measures to soften the worst effects, but in reality just sugaring the bitter pill.’
    • ‘The bitter pill of sexual abstinence is sugared with a soulless, preachy kind of rock 'n' wafer and a peer group pressure that is well parodied in the forthcoming Michael Stipe produced film, Saved!’
    • ‘Marcia also makes it clear she thought it was asinine, though she tries to sugar it up a little.’
    • ‘Well, Three Fools Comedy does the same thing with Shakespeare, cramming all 37 of the Bard's works into a frenzied hour and a half, then sugaring the whole thing with ham-handed slapstick.’
    • ‘It was a masterpiece of political presentation, sugaring a series of bitter pills, domestic and foreign, in the candy-coating of Labour tradition.’
    • ‘The Chancellor announced King's job early to sugar an otherwise acid pre-Budget report.’
    • ‘But what's more intriguing is the e-zine support that sugars the materialistic pill.’
    • ‘The film's willingness to get into the more difficult aspects of life and relationships, and to stay with them rather than sugaring them over, saves it from mediocrity and makes it worth a look.’


Middle English: from Old French sukere, from Italian zucchero, probably via medieval Latin from Arabic sukkar.