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treat definition


This page has 16 definitions of treat in English. Treat is a verb and noun. Examples of how to use treat in a sentence are shown. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .

See also: Treat



From Middle English treten, from Anglo-Norman treter, Old French tretier, traiter, from Latin trāctare (to pull", "to manage), from the past participle stem of trahere (to draw", "to pull).



treat (third-person singular simple present treats, present participle treating, simple past and past participle treated)

  1. (intransitive) To negotiate, discuss terms, bargain (for or with). [from 13th c.]
    • 1955, J. R. R. Tolkien, The Return of the King, George Allen & Unwin:
      Now halting a few paces before the Captains of the West he looked them up and down and laughed. 'Is there any in this rout with authority to treat with me?' he asked.
    • 1985, Lawrence Durrell, Quinx, Faber & Faber:
      After all, in this hideous war we have just passed through never forget that Halifax would have treated with Hitler: it took Churchill to refuse.
    • 2010 June 6, David Mitchell, The Observer:
      I wouldn't promote businesses I considered immoral – ambulance-chasing lawyers or online roulette for example – but I've got nothing against computer or software manufacture: they're important and any reputable company in that industry is welcome to treat for my services.
  2. (intransitive) To discourse; to handle a subject in writing or speaking; to conduct a discussion. [from 14th c.]
    Cicero's writing treats mainly of old age and personal duty.
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling:
      And, indeed, should the excellent Mr Broughton be prevailed on to set fist to paper, and to complete the above-said rudiments, by delivering down the true principles of athletics, I question whether the world will have any cause to lament, that none of the great writers, either antient or modern, have ever treated about that noble and useful art.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book X”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], OCLC 228722708; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, OCLC 230729554:
      Now of love they treat.
  3. (transitive) To discourse on; to represent or deal with in a particular way, in writing or speaking. [from 14th c.]
    The article treated feminism as a quintessentially modern movement.
  4. (transitive, intransitive, obsolete) To entreat or beseech (someone). [14th-17th c.]
    Only let my family live, I treat thee.
  5. (transitive) To handle, deal with or behave towards in a specific way. [from 14th c.]
    You treated me like a fool.
    She was tempted to treat the whole affair as a joke.
  6. (transitive) To entertain with food or drink, especially at one's own expense; to show hospitality to; to pay for as celebration or reward. [from 16th c.]
    I treated my son to some popcorn in the interval.
    I've done so well this month, I'll treat you all to dinner (or Dinner is my treat.)
    My husband treated me to a Paris holiday for our anniversary.
  7. (UK politics, law) To commit the offence of providing food, drink, entertainment or provision to corruptly influence a voter.
  8. (transitive) To care for medicinally or surgically; to apply medical care to. [from 18th c.]
    They treated me for malaria.
    • 2018, Sandeep Jauhar, Heart: a History, →ISBN, page 204:
      We treated firefighters suffering from smoke inhalation, giving them oxygen to breathe and albuterol mist to help open their airways.
  9. (transitive) To subject to a chemical or other action; to act upon with a specific scientific result in mind. [from 19th c.]
    He treated the substance with sulphuric acid.
    I treated the photo somewhat to make the colours more pronounced.
  10. To provide something special and pleasant.
    • 2012, Chelsea 6-0 Wolves [1]
      The Chelsea captain was a virtual spectator as he was treated to his side's biggest win for almost two years as Stamford Bridge serenaded him with chants of "there's only one England captain," some 48 hours after he announced his retirement from international football.

Usage notes

In the dialects found in Northern England, the past tense and past participle form tret (/tɹɛt/) is sometimes encountered.


  • (to deal with in a very specific way): behandle
  • (give medical care or attention to): leech, make better

Derived terms

Related terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Dictionary:Entry layout § Translations.


treat (plural treats)

  1. An entertainment, outing, food, drink, or other indulgence provided by someone for the enjoyment of others.
    I took the kids to the zoo for a treat.
    Here are some healthy Halloween treats for ghouls and witches of all ages.
  2. An unexpected gift, event etc., which provides great pleasure.
    It was such a treat to see her back in action on the London stage.
  3. A snack food item designed to be given to pets.
    I lured the cat into her carrier by throwing a couple of treats in there.
  4. (obsolete) A parley or discussion of terms; a negotiation.
  5. (obsolete) An entreaty.

Derived terms