: a small annual herb (Cuminum cyminum) of the carrot family cultivated for its aromatic fruits
also : the seedlike fruit of cumin used as a spice

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Cumin is a small, slender annual herb of the carrot family, cultivated in the Mediterranean region, India, China, and Mexico. Its seeds, which are actually dried fruits, are used in many mixed spices, chutneys, and chili and curry powders. Cumin is especially popular in Asian, North African, and Latin American cuisines. Its oil is used in perfumes, for flavoring liquors, and for medicinal purposes.

Examples of cumin in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Pour the tahini on top, making sure to scrape it all out of the container, and add the salt and cumin. The New York Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 Sep. 2023 Whisk sour cream, mint, water, and 1/4 teaspoon cumin together in a bowl; season with salt and pepper to taste. America's Test Kitchen, Chicago Tribune, 30 Aug. 2023 Seasoned with chipotle and cumin, this flavorful base has it all. Christopher Michel, Country Living, 15 Aug. 2023 Sprinkle with cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Southern Living Test Kitchen, Southern Living, 11 Aug. 2023 Onions and cumin seeds are gently sautéed before pinches of ground spices, a ladle of a curry sauce from a base made that morning, several large shrimp, blanched spinach and a splash of cream are added. Yewande Komolafe, New York Times, 21 July 2023 Try citrusy and piney rosemary, smoky cumin, sweet-hot curry powder, or earthy sage. Jasmine Smith, Southern Living, 5 Sep. 2023 September 1 Saucy cumin noodles This recipe by Bon Appétit contributor Zaynab Issa has been on my list for a long time. The Bon Appétit Staff & Contributors, Bon Appétit, 1 Sep. 2023 To make a healthy homemade dip, Rust says to cook them in boiling water for 10 minutes, drain and cool, then transfer to a food processor, adding a clove of garlic, a tablespoon of lemon juice, two teaspoons of cumin and pinch of salt. Marissa Miller, Women's Health, 8 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cumin.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Old English cymen, from Latin cuminum, from Greek kyminon, of Semitic origin; akin to Akkadian kamūnu cumin

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cumin was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near cumin

Cite this Entry

“Cumin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2023.

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