Can We Please Come up With Another Name for ‘Secret Sauce’

It‘s no longer a secret and it sounds… well, gross

Pamela Hazelton


Hand holding a platter of mango slices. Another hand is dipping the slice into a bowl of sauce.
Photo by zilvergolf — licensed via Freepik premium

I love words. I adore the English language and embrace the notion that we can break the rules so long as it aligns with our branded voice. But there’s a problem with some modern phrases: they’re inaccurate and sometimes gross.

When I first heard the phrase secret sauce to describe the one compelling thing hardly anyone ever thinks about that makes something work brilliantly, I thought: do they mean special sauce, like McDonald’s?

I get the concept behind the term. I’m sure the first handful of times it was used to describe a company’s success or a leader’s feat caught plenty of attention. Now, the term is littered across the web to express a boatload of ho-hum advice, repetitive at that.

Plus, it just sounds kinda gross. Like you’re going to top off my next project with a concoction of ketchup and mayonnaise. I’m not so keen on ketchup (blasphemy, I know). And mayo? The mere thought of it makes me gag.

Over the past few years, “secret sauce” became the term to describe “amazing,” “you never would have thought of this,” “worth a million bucks,” “game-changing” ideas on how to take almost anything to the ultimate level.

To find out how and when secret sauce came to mean something other than a condiment, I launched the Merriam-Webster dictionary. In a footnote, it says the definition referencing business success dates back to 1906.

Craving more details, I hopped over to Word Hippo. Didn’t help, really.

Definition of Secret Sauce via Word Hippo. Textual content of this image appears below.
Screenshot by the author
What is another word for secret sauce?
Need synonyms for secret sauce? Here’s a list of similar words from our thesaurus that you can use instead.
Special sauce, secret Sauce
Thousand Island dressing — special sauce — Thousand Island sauce — Russian dressing

I learned many more tidbits of useful information:

  • In the episode “Not Normal,” Secret Krabby Sauce made SpongeBob SquarePants abnormal again.



Pamela Hazelton

Avid writer, marketer & business consultant. // Reward yourself a little every day. 🆆🅾🆁🅺 + 🅻🅸🅵🅴 🅱🅰🅻🅰🅽🅲🅴