Definition of theriac in US English:



  • An ointment or other medicinal compound used as an antidote to snake venom or other poison.

    • ‘The recipe for theriac varied but usually included vipers' flesh, parts of lizards, honey, plants, and herbs or spices (even ginger, cinnamon, and myrrh).’
    • ‘Originally formulated to counteract the bites of venomous creatures, theriacs became general antidotes for poisons, venoms or ailments.’
    • ‘In the garden, he grew medicinal plants from which he made and distilled different therapeutic tinctures, ointments and so-called theriacs or quack remedies.’
    • ‘Numerous Islamic writers discussed poisons and particularly theriacs, the antidotes for poisons.’
    • ‘In some countries, theriacs, which came to be used for a wide range of poisoning prophylaxis and treatment, were made under ceremonial supervision.’
    • ‘Ibn al-Mubarak devoted, in addition, a section, to theriacs and general antidotes.’
    • ‘An endless series of powders, theriacs, electuaries, leeches, mixtures and tablets of various types, decoctions, ointments and plasters were discussed and classified.’
    • ‘Medieval physicians created even more elaborate theriacs to dose a plague-dreading populace, for whom the possibility of a cure-all didn't seem too wild a notion at all.’
    antitoxin, antiserum
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Late Middle English: from Latin theriaca (see treacle).