an·nat·to | \ə-ˈnä-(ˌ)tō \

Definition of annatto 

1 : a yellowish-red dyestuff made from the pulp around the seeds of a tropical American tree (Bixa orellana)

2 : the tree from which annatto is derived also : its dried seed used to color and flavor food

Examples of annatto in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Even the American cheese involves coloring from bee-pollinated annatto, milk from dairy cows that eat bee-pollinated alfalfa, and an emulsifier made from soybeans, which can self-pollinate, but produce higher yields if bees are present. Thor Hanson, WSJ, "The Plight of the Humble Bee," 29 June 2018 Add ground annatto, paprika, cumin, pepper, oregano and oil and mix together. Illyanna Maisonet, San Francisco Chronicle, "The quest to preserve Puerto Rican culture with food," 21 May 2018 The hardboiled egg is topped with a dollop of egg salad that consists of a complex mixture of shrimp gravy, chicharron, smoked fish, annatto, fish sauce, and calamansi, a sweet and tangy citrus fruit. Jean Trinh, Los Angeles Magazine, "What to Expect at Ma’am Sir, Silver Lake’s Newest Filipino Restaurant and Bar," 31 May 2018 Chick-fil-A’s has eggs, salt, xanthan gum, citric acid, annatto and a butter flavoring with medium chain triglycerides, coconut oil and natural flavors. Ali Rosen, Bon Appetit, "Why Is There Dicalcium Phosphate In My Breakfast Sandwich?," 1 Mar. 2018 The mixture gets a dose of earthiness from annatto oil, creating a multidimensional dish. Michael Bauer, San Francisco Chronicle, "The Temple Club: Vietnamese food you can’t get anywhere else," 2 Feb. 2018 The dish includes parsley farro with roasted annatto pork, a 63-degree egg, butternut squash, pickled green tomato, tahini sauce and toasted peanuts. Becca Godwin,, "Whole Foods Market taps chef Hugh Acheson for winter dish at Roast restaurant," 10 Jan. 2018 Organic California basmati rice, cooked with a satchet of bay leaf and annatto seed. Garrett Snyder, Los Angeles Magazine, "L.A.’s Most Essential Dish This Year Was a $14 Bowl of Rice," 20 Dec. 2017 Sourced from the Amazon, this featherweight hair oil nourishes strands with annatto, pumpkin seed, and argan oils and boasts a light yet addictive scent courtesy of white cedarwood, musk, and rose. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "These 6 Korean Beauty Products are Bonafide Game Changers," 16 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'annatto.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of annatto

1629, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for annatto

Carib annoto tree producing annatto

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Dictionary Entries near annatto

Ann Arbor




annatto tree

Ann, Cape


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The first known use of annatto was in 1629

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More Definitions for annatto


an·nat·to | \ə-ˈnät-(ˌ)ō, -ˈnat- \

Medical Definition of annatto 

: a yellowish red dyestuff made from the pulp around the seeds of a tropical tree (Bixa orellana of the family Bixaceae) and used especially for coloring oils, butter, and cheese

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Comments on annatto

What made you want to look up annatto? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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