fen·​nel ˈfe-nᵊl How to pronounce fennel (audio)
: a perennial Eurasian herb (Foeniculum vulgare) that has clusters of small yellow flowers and aromatic leaves and seeds and includes several cultivated forms: such as
: one (F. vulgare dulce) grown especially for its edible leaves and seeds that are used as a seasoning
: the edible parts (such as the seeds and leaves) of fennel

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A perennial aromatic herb of the parsley family, fennel is native to southern Europe and Asia Minor and cultivated in the US, Britain, and temperate areas of Eurasia. The blanched shoots are eaten as a vegetable. The greenish brown to yellowish brown oblong-oval seeds smell and taste similar to anise. The seeds and extracted oil are used for scenting soaps and perfumes and for flavoring candies, liqueurs, medicines, and foods, particularly pastries, sweet pickles, and fish.

Examples of fennel in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Vanilla continues onto the palate but morphs to custard form, complemented by notes of fennel pollen, a hint of banana, a healthy dose of spice, and a bit of leather and oak. Jonah Flicker, Robb Report, 14 July 2024 Gold Crush has notes of pear and fennel and is incredibly complex. Andrew Watman, WIRED, 11 July 2024 Crispy skin-on chicken thighs cook in a dish with fennel (both seeds and vegetable), white wine, citrus, and Dijon. Carole Kotkin, Miami Herald, 10 June 2024 No one is going to ask it to play fetch or figure out what to do with all the fennel in the fridge. David Berreby, Scientific American, 1 Mar. 2024 See all Example Sentences for fennel 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fennel.' 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 fenel, from Old English finugl, from Vulgar Latin *fenuculum, from Latin feniculum fennel, irregular diminutive of fenum hay

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near fennel

Cite this Entry

“Fennel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fennel. Accessed 21 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


fen·​nel ˈfen-ᵊl How to pronounce fennel (audio)
: a garden plant related to the carrot that is grown for its fragrant seeds and needle-shaped leaflets

Medical Definition


fen·​nel ˈfen-ᵊl How to pronounce fennel (audio)
: a perennial European herb (Foeniculum vulgare) of the carrot family (Umbelliferae) introduced into North America and cultivated for its aromatic seeds and its foliage

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