My supervisor and I had a discussion about my thesis progress this morning, and he described my writing progress:

Like swimming in _____.

I have no idea about the word he said, then he changed the expression into “swimming in honey”. I have spent half an hour on Google to figure out that word and failed.

  • What is the missing word from that phrase?

closed as too broad by Mari-Lou A, Andrew Leach Jun 27 '16 at 20:15

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 5
    Treacle or molasses? – Dan Bron Jun 27 '16 at 1:16
  • Many thanks, Dan. I think what he said is treacle, cheers. – emdms Jun 27 '16 at 1:18
  • The point, of course, is that such substances are quite viscous, and so swimming in them would be difficult to impossible. – Hot Licks Jun 27 '16 at 1:46
  • @ Hot licks There is an article from Quora " Is it possible to swim in honey?", and that really shows my writing situation. I hope it is difficult not impossible to finish this race. – emdms Jun 27 '16 at 1:54
  • He's basically saying that your progress is slow. There are many expressions like this out there, the most common being: "Slower than molasses going uphill in January." – Tucker Jun 27 '16 at 4:10

The phrase like ᴠᴇʀʙing through molasses (AmE) or ... through treacle (BrE) is commonly employed to convey the idea of very slow progress.

Typically, this is not due to active resistance, rather it is used reflectively, as a observation made in hindsight. The analogy is possible, as @HotLicks points out, due to the high viscosity of fluids like molasses, treacle and honey.

Alternatively, another common versions of this idiom is ‘wading through treacle’, this thick sticky black (or golden) syrup will be unfamiliar with many American English speakers. But if you're a fan of Harry Potter, you ought to know that his favourite dessert is treacle tart. Google Books reports 1,820 results for the idiom.

wade through (Cambridge Dictionaries)

to spend a lot of time and effort doing something boring or difficult, especially reading a lot of information:

  • Yeah, I'm not on the desktop/full experience site much, I mostly participate via the mobile app, but when I do jump on a computer, I do my duty and review the queues. I'll take a look at your answer and vote as needed. – Dan Bron Jul 12 '16 at 14:08

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.