nat·​to ˈnä-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce natto (audio)
: a dish of fermented soybeans with a pungent flavor and gluey texture that is eaten chiefly in Japan and usually served over rice

Note: Natto is prepared by fermenting steamed or boiled soybeans with a bacteria (especially Bacillus subtilis natto).

Natto is traditionally made by storing soybeans in straw bags; the beans ferment and develop a sticky coating with an intense flavor.Saveur

Examples of natto in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Sides and small plates also diverge from Kim’s famous restaurant; the bean paste soup at K-Team, for instance, uses stronger natto for bolder flavor. Stephanie Breijo, Los Angeles Times, 26 Mar. 2024 Instructions Step 1 To a small bowl, add the natto and season with karashi and soy sauce to taste. Megan Zhang, Saveur, 13 Sep. 2023 Seasonings for natto aren’t limited to karashi and soy sauce. Megan Zhang, Saveur, 13 Sep. 2023 Divide the rice between two serving bowls, then top evenly with the natto mixture, egg yolks (if using), and scallions. Megan Zhang, Saveur, 13 Sep. 2023 Bacillus natto appeared to change the gut microbiome, increasing levels of gut bacteria Verrucomicrobias to 42.51 percent of total intestinal microbes, and the number of Actinobacteria rising to 2.45 percent. Russell Thomas, Discover Magazine, 3 Aug. 2021 During this process of forming natto, the soybeans are soaked and cooked, then mixed with the strain B. subtilis to allow fermentation for up to 24 hours at a set temperature. Valerie Agyeman, Good Housekeeping, 22 Nov. 2022 The Japanese diet, rich in foods such as seafood, steamed rice, tofu, natto, seaweed, and pickled fruits and vegetables, has been promoted for its longevity-promoting aspects as well. SELF, 18 June 2022 Nattо̄ — soy beans fermented using the microbe Bacillus natto — has also been historically commended. Russell Thomas, Discover Magazine, 3 Aug. 2021

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

Word History


borrowed from Japanese nattō, from nat-, of uncertain meaning and origin + -tō "beans"

First Known Use

1899, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of natto was in 1899

Dictionary Entries Near natto

Cite this Entry

“Natto.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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