"...running like treacle" - what does it mean?

Helga Odina

New Member
Russian - Russia
Hi everyone,

I've just come across this sentence "It has led to major websites and services – including Imgur, Medium and the Docker Registry Hub – falling offline, losing images, or left running like treacle." They mean the outage of Amazon S3, in case it's relevant.
I understand what "treacle" generally means, but how is it used in this sentence? Is this some idiomatic expression (of which I cannot find any traces online) or just a metaphor? And if it is a metaphor, what would be the synonym?

I'm asking because I'm not English, so I need help with understanding this phrase, but I kind of like it and would like to use it myself if it makes sense in a context other than that one:)

Thanks a lot in advance!
  • heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I've never come across 'running like treacle' before, but I would guess it means 'running very slowly'.

    There is an expression 'like running/walking through treacle', which can be used to describe something which feels like hard work, or a bit of an effort. Maybe the writer is playing with this established idiom?

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Treacle is thick and sticky so 'running like treacle' means slowly and 'sticking' or often stopping.
    It's not a common expression.
    Just to add after reading heypresto's, that I haven't heard it before and I suspect it's just invented by analogy with the fairly well known expression.

    Helga Odina

    New Member
    Russian - Russia
    Thanks a lot to all the contributors. The meaning 'running very slowly' absolutely makes sense, why I haven't thought of that?:) But I guess this is one of those expressions that can only be used by native speakers, because if I use it, people will think I've made a mistake instead of admiring how figurative my language is:)

    Thanks again!
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