to·​ma·​to | \ tə-ˈmā-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce tomato (audio) ; chiefly in Britain, eastern New England, northeastern Virginia, and sometimes elsewhere in cultivated speech -ˈmä- How to pronounce tomato (audio) ; chiefly in Northern US -ˈma- \
plural tomatoes

Definition of tomato

1 : the usually large, rounded, edible, pulpy berry of an herb (genus Solanum) of the nightshade family native to South America that is typically red but may be yellow, orange, green, or purplish in color and is eaten raw or cooked as a vegetable
2 : a plant that produces tomatoes especially : any of various varieties of a tender perennial (Solanum lycopersicum synonym Lycopersicon esculentum) widely cultivated as an annual

How is tomato pronounced?: Usage Guide

The original pronunciation of this Spanish loanword was with stressed \ä\, as was also the case for potato. The older \ä\ pronunciation of potato is found in Robert Burns' poem "Holy Willie's Prayer" and persists in some Scottish dialects. Perhaps because potato has been part of English longer than tomato, its pronunciation has been anglicized in most dialects, with the stressed \ä\ vowel becoming \ā\, like the a in Plato (from Greek) and dado (from Italian). The pronunciation of tomato began the same journey of anglicization but was halted halfway between, so that British and some Eastern American dialects have the older \ä\ while the others have the newer \ā\. Tomato, being the name of a New World plant, might have entered the English language first in the Americas, where it would have had more time to undergo anglicization in American mouths. The various pronunciations of tomato are all acceptable in standard English.

Examples of tomato in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web That means refreshingly fuss-free pies with crispy, foldable crusts, bright tomato sauce, and mild mozzarella. Katie Chang, Forbes, 10 Aug. 2022 Spread ⅓ cup tomato sauce over dough, leaving an ⅛-inch border. People Staff,, 2 Aug. 2022 As for side dishes, green beans simmered in tomato sauce taste as if a Greek grandma were behind their soft and tangy appeal. Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, 25 July 2022 Showcasing the colors of the Mexican flag, this fresh tomato salad has become one of our favorite side dishes of summer. Karla Walsh, Better Homes & Gardens, 25 July 2022 As the sun set, guests were served a snow crab and tomato salad accompanied by cornbread, a nod to the chef's childhood favorite. Cassandra Pintro, Vogue, 1 July 2022 The best delivery system for this beef is the all-American burger, a twin-patty tower with white American cheese, lettuce, tomato and pickles, all packed into a fresh brioche bun from Lyon Bakery. Tim Carman, Washington Post, 27 June 2022 Fruit and veggies are apples, beets, broccoli, carrots, celery, corn, cucumber, edamame, tomatoes, hearts of palm, jalapeños, spicy peppers, pickled onion, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, scallions and cucumber and tomato salad. Susan Dunne, Hartford Courant, 8 June 2022 The tomato salad is also available as an entrée that features two stacks of tomatoes served with Alabama Gulf shrimp from Bayou La Batre. Bob Carlton |, al, 4 May 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of tomato

1604, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tomato

alteration of earlier tomate, from Spanish, from Nahuatl tomatl

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Last Updated

12 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Tomato.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for tomato


to·​ma·​to | \ tə-ˈmā-tō How to pronounce tomato (audio) , -ˈmä- \
plural tomatoes

Kids Definition of tomato

: the usually red juicy fruit of a plant related to the potato that is eaten raw or cooked as a vegetable

More from Merriam-Webster on tomato

Nglish: Translation of tomato for Spanish Speakers

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


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