to·​bac·​co | \tə-ˈba-(ˌ)kō \
plural tobaccos

Definition of tobacco 

1 : any of a genus (Nicotiana) of chiefly American plants of the nightshade family with viscid foliage and tubular flowers especially : a tall erect annual tropical American herb (N. tabacum) cultivated for its leaves

2 : the leaves of cultivated tobacco prepared for use in smoking or chewing or as snuff

3 : manufactured products of tobacco (such as cigars or cigarettes) also : smoking as a practice has sworn off tobacco

4 : a moderate brown

Illustration of tobacco

Illustration of tobacco

tobacco 1

Examples of tobacco in a Sentence

a farm that grows tobacco a state tax on tobacco

Recent Examples on the Web

Linking up with Altria could enable Juul to benefit from the shelf space Altria has carved out in stores for brands like Marlboro, Parliament and Skoal, and give the startup access to the legions of cigarette smokers the big tobacco company enjoys. Jennifer Maloney, WSJ, "Altria in Talks to Take Significant Minority Stake in Juul Labs," 28 Nov. 2018 Altria Client Services, which represents tobacco company Philip Morris, has spent $12 million opposing the Medicaid ballot. Sarah Kliff, Vox, "Medicaid expansion is on the ballot in four key states," 7 Nov. 2018 University of Pittsburgh researchers estimate that a quarter of the followers of Juul’s Twitter account are underage. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration bans sales of e-cigarettes and tobacco products to those under 18. Mike Stobbe, The Seattle Times, "Juul halts store sales of some flavored e-cigarettes," 14 Nov. 2018 And all except Juul also have ties to traditional tobacco products. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "FDA asks e-cigarette giants to help regulate themselves," 31 Oct. 2018 One more cost-effective intervention for heart disease, and one favored by the World Health Organization, is heavily taxing tobacco products. Abigail Higgins, Vox, "Heart disease used to be an ailment of the rich. But it’s now striking the world’s poor.," 15 Oct. 2018 The warning in May was a part of the FDA's sweeping actions taken to prevent sales of tobacco products to kids. Fox News, "Firms stop kid-friendly packaged e-cigarette liquids sales after FDA push," 24 Aug. 2018 The ban does not apply to e-cigarettes, snuff and chewing tobacco, although there may be restrictions on those in some areas. Jason Silverstein, CBS News, "Smoking will be banned in public housing nationwide at end of July," 12 July 2018 The policy was widely supported by public health advocates, who feel that flavored products, which may increase users’ risks of certain respiratory conditions, are appealing to kids and may encourage them to begin using tobacco. Jamie Ducharme, Time, "San Francisco Voters Just Approved a Ban on Flavored Tobacco," 6 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tobacco.' 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 tobacco

circa 1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tobacco

Spanish tabaco, probably from Taino, roll of tobacco leaves

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Dictionary Entries near tobacco





tobacco barn

tobacco beetle

tobacco box

Statistics for tobacco

Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tobacco

The first known use of tobacco was circa 1565

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More Definitions for tobacco



English Language Learners Definition of tobacco

: a plant that produces leaves which are smoked in cigarettes, pipes, etc.

: the leaves of the tobacco plant used for smoking or chewing

: products (such as cigars or cigarettes) that are made from tobacco


to·​bac·​co | \tə-ˈba-kō \
plural tobaccos

Kids Definition of tobacco

: the usually large sticky leaves of a tall plant related to the potato that are dried and prepared for use in smoking or chewing or as snuff


to·​bac·​co | \tə-ˈbak-(ˌ)ō \
plural tobaccos

Medical Definition of tobacco 

1 : any plant of the genus Nicotiana especially : an annual South American herb (N. tabacum) cultivated for its leaves

2 : the leaves of cultivated tobacco prepared for use in smoking or chewing or as snuff

3 : manufactured products of tobacco also : the use of tobacco as a practice

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More from Merriam-Webster on tobacco

Spanish Central: Translation of tobacco

Nglish: Translation of tobacco for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tobacco for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about tobacco

Comments on tobacco

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


to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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