I recently heard a nurse use the word troche, which was unfamiliar to me; Merriam-Webster defines it as “a small usually sweetened and flavored medicated material that is designed to be held in the mouth for slow dissolution” and gives the pronunciations “\ˈtrō-kē, British usually ˈtrōsh\.” AHD — which has a fuller etymology: “Back-formation from Middle English trocis, troches (taken as pl.), from Old French trocisse, from Late Latin trochiscus, from Greek trokhiskos, diminutive of trokhos, wheel, from trekhein, to run” — gives only \ˈtrō-kē\ (i.e., TROH-key). But this was an American nurse, and she said \trōsh\. So if you are familiar with this word and use it in speech, where are you from and how do you say it?


  1. I’m from Birmingham, UK, and this makes me think immediately of troach, a sort of hard-boiled medicinal sweet that was common in my childhood, pronounced /trəʊtʃ/.

  2. I’m familiar with this word through Japanese, where it is トローチ torōchi.

    It’s not a word that I’ve used much in English, and I’m not ever sure whether or where I might have heard it in English. I would have pronounced it as /troʊʃ/ (ˈtrōsh according to your Merriam Webster pronunciation). Since this is given as the British English pronunciation it suggests that I might have heard that pronunciation somewhere, rather than guessing it or making it up, but I can’t be sure. I was surprised to see it given as ˈtrō-kē.

    There is a Wikipedia article on トローチ which starts thus:

    トローチ(英: troche [ˈtroʊki, troʊʃ], pastille)は….

    The corresponding English-language article is at Pastille.

  3. Jeffry House says

    I say tro-kay for the poetic term, as in “trochaic”. It’s unlikely that troche and trochée are unrelated, right?

  4. Yes, they’re related; “French trochée, from Latin trochaeus, from Greek trokhaios, from trokhos, a running, from trekhein, to run” (AHD).

  5. Troche rings no bell. In my lexicon, lozenges have a smooth exterior and are for sore throats. Pastilles have bumps on the surface from grains of sugar, and need not be medicinal.

  6. Familiar and use it in speech (as ˈtrōsh), but I once studied herbal medicine, in which the word seems to be more frequently used. My teacher was apparently unaware it came from Greek. I suspected it did, but followed the teacher’s pronunciation.

  7. mollymooly, Crown was recently wondering whether you are still in the blog world (he defected to FB for a while, as did I). He attributed to you a wide knowledge of hydrodynamics, but wasn’t sure.

  8. Athel Cornish-Bowden says

    I lived in Birmingham, UK, for 16 years (as well as a few weeks when I was a baby), and I never came across troaches as far as I remember. However, I never thought of myself as a Brummie and I’m sure that there were lots of words in common use that I never came across.

  9. I lived in Birmingham, UK, for 16 years (as well as a few weeks when I was a baby), and I never came across troaches as far as I remember

    I am talking about 40 to 50 years ago when it was the sort of possibly already dated word that my grandmother would have used. I can’t say it is a word I’ve ever heard outside of family. Boiled sweets weren’t a common topic of conversation for me once I grew up and left Birmingham so it wasn’t until fairly recently that I realised this wasn’t a generally understood term. I think of it as a generic word for a sort of Olde English type of sweet of the type that you’d get in a jar on the shelf rather than buy in a packet from the counter.

  10. I’ve never heard this word in my life, ever, but it made me think of “trochee” on first reading and I was glad to read in the comments that they’re actually related. Then I thought of “trek” and was brought down to earth by how very unrelated those words are. Etymological realizations have such highs and lows.

  11. … on the subject of lozenges, which I feel must have come up on here before, it’s funny how the same word means only two essentially opposite things: an extremely angular glass shard, and something round which you suck on

  12. Update by text from my mother, lifelong Brummie: “Troach is an old fashioned boiled sweet. I think you can get them from these traditional sweet shops you come across at places like The Black Country Museum. They taste of liquorice and herbs. When I was a child they were brown chunks like a stick of rock which had been chopped.”

  13. I love these bits of local lore that crop up in comment threads!

  14. Anyone who has studied classical Greek verse metre will be familiar with troche – also iamb, dactyl, anapaest, spondee, etc.

  15. You’re confusing troche with trochee, unless you’re making a joke; in either case, have you read the comments above discussing both words?

  16. Dutch here. Entry from “Zakwoordenboek der geneeskunde”, Coëlho, Elsevier & Koninklijke PBNA, 23rd printing 1989, reads:
    troche, G, (geneesmiddel)tablet
    English translation:
    Pocket dictionary of medicine, by Coëlho, etc.
    troche, derived from Greek, (medicinal) tablet

  17. trochę is a polish word. it’s like “some” or “a bit,” for example: “do you want some cake?” “yes, a little bit” – “Chcesz trochę ciasta?”, “tak, trochę”

  18. I have seldom been mistaken for a hydrodynamicist. Let me try winging it. Second law of hydrodynamics : to every swash there is an equal and opposite backwash.

  19. Ah, this must be the source of atrocious. Presumably the flavoring did not sufficiently mask the taste of the medicine. 😉

  20. So the Polish trochę is a skosh, then.

  21. I think nowadays “lozenge” is used; the good old military intramuscular morphine autojector has now been replaced by a fentanyl lozenge, a sort of lollipop on a stick which the injured soldier sucks to absorb the drug more rapidly through the mouth lining. (Also had the advantage that if he has too much and nods off he drops the lozenge out of his mouth, so it’s self limiting.)

    How interesting that we used kyklos a circle to mean wheels in bicycle, etc, when there was a perfectly good Greek word for wheel already! Did anyone ever try talking about a bitroch?

  22. I am 77 years old. From south New Jersey. My mother grew up in Brooklyn and my father was from Montreal, but moved to Brooklyn when he was twelve. I have always heard and said TRO-KEY .

  23. I’m a doctor in Australia – hear the term used a fair bit now related to compounded herbal medicines only, usually pronounced “troash” (broaden the Australian vowel as need be)

  24. Thanks! I find myself saying it that way because the \ˈtrō-kē\ version just sounds so pretentious to me. I’m sure if I’d grown up with it it would sound perfectly normal.

  25. While studying pharmacology in 1977 in the Philadelphia area, troche was pronounced trosh with a long “o” sound by our teachers and in the hospital. I recently heard it pronounced trokee, with a long “o”. Word pronunciation, especially medical language, changes over time and locality in my experience.

  26. Thanks very much!

  27. Itzmeagain says

    I was brought up in the West Midlands in the 50s and we would go to Cradley or Blackheath markets. We would buy troche sweets, pontefract cakes, tea cakes and many other sweets (candies). Troche or troach sweets were rectangular hard cough sweets about an inch x half an inch by a quarter of an inch. They tasted medicinal with a definite flavour of eucalyptus.

  28. Darlene Thompson says

    I am from Canada and it seems to be pronounced TROSH (long o) but I was recently speaking to a friend from the US who pronounced it TROkey. Either way, it’s a lozenge that you hold in your cheek or under your tongue until dissolved. Never chew it and swallow it.


  29. Pedro Troche says

    There is the medical term Troche, and the surname Troche pronounced ‘tro-shay’ with long ‘o’ or ‘tro-che’ long ‘o’ and short ‘e’ like ‘che’ in ‘che Guevara’ usually in Spanish. Don’t know whether medical and nominal terms are linguistically related, but it’s a thought….

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