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.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Our recipe consists whipping the butter and mixing in harissa paste and fennel seeds. USA TODAY, 14 Nov. 2022 Stir in 1 tablespoon oil, then parsley and any fennel seeds still on Broccolini pan. Kate Merker, Good Housekeeping, 11 Nov. 2022 Celery and fennel add an herbal element to this clean profile, while a touch of hay and sawdust provide additional heft. Felipe Schrieberg, Forbes, 2 Aug. 2022 The fennel adds some licorice notes to the dish, while charred citrus brings a bright, smokiness to the equation. Trish Clasen Marsanico, Good Housekeeping, 3 Nov. 2022 This salad is all about the crisp crunch of the fennel and celery, and the way these big bold flavors are tamed by the creamy almond dressing. Vogue, 5 Aug. 2022 The crushed green olives should be big and fleshy, like a chunky relish to contrast the icy bite of the fennel. Ben Mimscooking Columnist, Los Angeles Times, 29 May 2022 Cardamom pods, allspice berries, cumin, coriander, yellow mustard, fennel, and peppercorns are all fair game. Rebecca Firkser, Bon Appétit, 27 Oct. 2022 Toss assorted tiny tomatoes with arugula, fennel, and parsley, and top with a delicious Champagne vinaigrette for a quick and easy side dish. Sarah Martens, Better Homes & Gardens, 17 Aug. 2022 See More

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

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 10 Dec. 2022.

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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