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Borrowed from French caramel, from Spanish caramelo, from Late Latin calamellus, diminutive of calamus (reed) (and therefore a doublet of chalumeau and shawm), or alternatively from Medieval Latin cannamellis, which is either a compound of canna + mellis or possibly a borrowing from Arabic.



caramel (countable and uncountable, plural caramels)

  1. A smooth, chewy, sticky confection made by heating sugar and other ingredients until the sugars polymerize and become sticky.
  2. A (sometimes hardened) piece of this confection.
  3. A yellow-brown color, like that of caramel.
    caramel colour:  

Usage notes[edit]

Both the two syllable and the three syllable pronunciations are very common in all regions of the United States. The three-syllable pronunciation is more common than the two-syllable one in the South (excluding western Texas), northern New Jersey, eastern New York, and New England, while the two-syllable one is more common in other regions.[5]

Derived terms[edit]


See also[edit]


caramel (not comparable)

  1. Of a yellow-brown color.
    • 2001, Nicole Sconiers, California Schemin': The Black Woman's Guide to Surviving in LA
      Every time I saw this caramel cutie, she was working on a new proposal or business plan or flyer to promote herself and her event coordinating business.


caramel (third-person singular simple present caramels, present participle caramelling, simple past and past participle caramelled)

  1. (transitive, cooking, dated) To caramelize.
    • 1900, M. M. Mallock, The Economics of Modern Cookery: Or, A Younger Son's Cookery Book
      To turn out, place the dish over the mould, and invert both together, when, if the caramelling has been complete, the pudding should slip out without any difficulty at all.


  1. ^ caramel” (US) / “caramel” (UK) in Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford University Press.: /ˈkarəm(ə)l/, /ˈkarəmɛl/
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 caramel” in Unabridged,, LLC, 1995–present.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 caramel” in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
  4. ^ caramel” (US) / “caramel” (UK) in Macmillan Dictionary: /ˈkerəˌmel/, /ˈkɑrməl/
  5. ^ Dialect Survey map 1, showing that both pronunciations are common in all regions, and map 2, showing which regions the di- and tri-syllabic pronunciations predominate in




Borrowed from Spanish caramelo, from Portuguese caramelo, probably from Late Latin calamellus, and therefore doublet of the inherited chalumeau.



caramel m (plural caramels)

  1. caramel, fudge

Derived terms[edit]

Further reading[edit]