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

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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 Some tomato cultivars display leaf rolling as a normal growth habit. oregonlive, "Grow the best tomatoes by identifying and treating common troubles," 29 June 2020 Think ‘70s racing stripes, tessellating cassette tapes in place of wallpaper and a color scheme that intentionally or unintentionally coordinates with a line of Bianco tomato cans that flanks the room. Dominic Armato, The Arizona Republic, "Pizza doesn't have to be fancy to be good. This new metro Phoenix restaurant proves it," 27 June 2020 TikTok user Leslie Flores of New Jersey, where Goya is headquartered, filmed herself throwing away beans, tomato sauce and sofrito, a Puerto Rican sauce. Scottie Andrew And Alisha Ebrahimji, CNN, "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Chef José Andrés and others criticize Goya CEO for supporting Trump," 10 July 2020 With the extras, Madeline filled our driveway with veggie pots and had enough left over to give away tomato plants to all of our neighbors and friends. oregonlive, "7 summer reads to inspire gardeners: The Pecks," 3 July 2020 The white pizza’s subtle style found a kindred spirit in Truth’s margherita pizza ($12 for a 12-inch pie), with slices of Roma tomato and a generous chop of fresh basil in solid balance with the melted mozzarella and rippled crust. Mike Sutter,, "52 Weeks of Pizza: Truth Pizzeria restaurant rocks a hybrid New York-Neapolitan style on San Antonio’s East Side," 3 July 2020 There’s also the famous Big Ass burger with lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, bacon and fries ($16). Georgann Yara, The Arizona Republic, "21 metro Phoenix restaurants with deals and specials for 4th of July," 29 June 2020 The sandwich, made of lepinja bread with shredded lettuce, cabbage, onions, cucumbers and tomato with meat or falafel, is one of the restaurants most popular items. Meredith Spelbring, Detroit Free Press, "One of metro Detroit's popular food joints now offers vegan options," 23 June 2020 Shade-loving lettuce hides underneath cucumber trellises, and beets avoid the sun beside tall tomato plants. Grace Haynes, Southern Living, "Kelly Smith-Trimble Strays from Traditional Planting Methods in Her Tennessee Garden," 5 June 2020

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.

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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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Learn More about tomato

Time Traveler for tomato

Time Traveler

The first known use of tomato was in 1604

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Statistics for tomato

Last Updated

30 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tomato.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on tomato

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tomato

Spanish Central: Translation of tomato

Nglish: Translation of tomato for Spanish Speakers

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

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