[ kar-uh-muhl, -mel, kahr-muhl ]
/ ˈkær ə məl, -ˌmɛl, ˈkɑr məl /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: caramel / caramels on Thesaurus.com

a liquid made by cooking sugar until it changes color, used for coloring and flavoring food.
a kind of chewy candy, commonly in small blocks, made from sugar, butter, milk, etc.
a yellowish brown or tan color.


Click for a side-by-side comparison of meanings. Use the word comparison feature to learn the differences between similar and commonly confused words.


Why Do These Words Have Different Pronunciations?

How is it possible that a word, spelled the same way, can have so many different pronunciations? Caramel, data, either ... how do you pronounce these words, and which way is correct?

Should you take this quiz on “shall” versus “should”? It should prove to be a quick challenge!
Question 1 of 6
Which form is used to state an obligation or duty someone has?

Origin of caramel

First recorded in 1715–25; from French, from Spanish or Portuguese caramelo, from Late Latin calamellus “little reed” (by dissimilation), equivalent to calam(us) reed (see calamus) + -ellus diminutive suffix; meaning changed by association with Medieval Latin cannamella, canna mellis, etc., “sugarcane,” equivalent to Latin canna cane + mel “honey” (genitive mellis )
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What is caramel?

Caramel is a liquid made by heating sugar until it changes to a brownish color. Caramel is used for coloring or flavoring food.

Caramel is often used as a flavoring or sauce for a variety of foods, especially desserts, such as caramel ice cream and caramel-coated popcorn.

The word caramel can also refer to a chewy candy made from the heated sugar, milk, butter, and other ingredients. It’s often shaped into cubes and is sometimes covered in chocolate, which you might find in a box of Valentine’s Day chocolates.

Finally, caramel can refer to a tan or yellowish-brown color that resembles the color of the sugary liquid, as in The cat had a caramel-colored tail.

Example: My favorite candy is a chocolate bar filled with caramel.

Where does caramel come from?

The first records of the word caramel come from around 1715. It ultimately comes from the Late Latin calamellus, meaning “little reed.” This word is related to cannamella, the Latin word for sugarcane. The liquid caramel comes from heated sugar.

Caramel is used to give a sweet flavor to many different foods. It is likely to be used in dessert items, such as ice cream, chocolate, cake, and pie. Caramel is a nice treat. Because it is made of sugar, though, eating too much caramel has the same health risks as eating too much sugar.

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to caramel?

What are some words that share a root or word element with caramel

What are some words that often get used in discussing caramel?

How is caramel used in real life?

Caramel is a very common ingredient used in many people’s favorite sweets and desserts.

Try using caramel!

True or False?

Caramel is made from heating honey until it changes color.

How to use caramel in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for caramel

/ (ˈkærəməl, -ˌmɛl) /

burnt sugar, used for colouring and flavouring food
a chewy sweet made from sugar, butter, milk, etc

Word Origin for caramel

C18: from French, from Spanish caramelo, of uncertain origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012