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Caramel vs. Carmel

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  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips

There are many delicious desserts and drinks that feature the taste of a familiar sweet treat. Most people know what it looks and tastes like, but many writers aren’t sure how this sugary brown ingredient should be spelled. Is the word caramel, pronounced with three syllables, or carmel, pronounced with only two syllables? Both of these are real words, but only one of them refers to something that tastes good. If you use the wrong one at the wrong time, you risk confusing your readers.

In this post, I will compare caramel vs. carmel. I will use each of these words in at least one example sentence. Plus, I will demonstrate a technique for remembering which word is which, so you will never have to worry whether caramel or carmel is correct again.


The word caramel originated from early 18th century: from French, from Spanish caramel.

Caramel as noun:

Caramel is used as a noun in English language where it means sugar or syrup heated until it turns brown, used as a flavouring or colouring for food or drink.

A gateau frosted with caramel.

Carmel as noun:

Carmel is a proper noun. This word refers either to a place in California or a mountain in Israel. The word carmel never refers to a food item, and to spell it this way in such a context amounts to a spelling error. Carmel should be pronounced with two syllables, like marvel.


The company recently reformulated all 17 of its flavors, including root beer, orange, black cherry and grape, to remove caramel coloring and achieve Non-GMO Project Verification status. (Food Business News)

But when a dessert is this heavenly, there’s little for us to say except find the time to make this Chocolate-Caramel Pretzel Tart, because it is so worth it. (The Huffington Post)

When her favourite pony, Caramel, gets sold to an owner who neglects her, Coco and a boy called Lawrie Marshall take it into their own hands to rescue her as well as another horse which is close to foaling. (The Guardian)

Such is the case at Wyandotte Public Schools, which this fall is opening its Early Childhood Center in the former Mount Carmel Elementary School at 2609 10th St. (The News-Herald)

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard has drafted a new anti-discrimination ordinance in the wake of the continuing fallout over Indiana’s controversial “religious freedom” law. (The Indianapolis Star)

The original prints that acclaimed photographer Ansel Adams gave Rep. Sam Farr of Carmel are carefully wrapped up for the trip back to California. –LA Times

Caramel or Carmel:

Carmel and caramel are nouns. The former is a proper noun that refers to one of at least two place names. The latter is a sugary brown food item, and it is a common noun. Carmel is a city in California. Caramel is a type of dessert. Caramel is pronounced with three syllables. Carmel, the city, is pronounced with two syllables. You can use the number of syllables in each word to link it with other nouns of the same type: caramel and aerogel are both three-syllable common nouns, while Carmel and Arnold are both two-syllable proper nouns. These two words are confusing because they are so similar. Rather than make a mistake that could be easily avoided, you should check this article for a refresher if you still need help.

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