umami

1 of 2

noun

uma·​mi ü-ˈmä-mē How to pronounce umami (audio)
: the taste sensation that is produced by several amino acids and nucleotides (such as glutamate and aspartate) and has a rich or meaty flavor characteristic of cheese, cooked meat, mushrooms, soy, and ripe tomatoes : savory entry 2 sense 2
Umami is often described as a meaty flavor and is particularly strong in aged or fermented products, like cheese and wine.Carla Ranicki
compare bitter entry 2 sense 1b, salty entry 2 sense 1b, sour entry 2 sense 1b, sweet entry 3 sense 2

umami

2 of 2

adjective

: being, inducing, or marked by one of the five basic taste sensations that is typically induced by several amino acids and nucleotides (such as glutamate and aspartate) and has a rich or meaty flavor characteristic of cheese, cooked meat, mushrooms, soy, and ripe tomatoes
A crab risotto made from local crabs is powerful with the big umami flavor of brown meat.Jay Rayner
: savory entry 1 sense e compare bitter entry 1 sense 1a, salty entry 1 sense 1b, sour entry 1 sense 1, sweet entry 1 sense 1

Did you know?

A Japanese scientist was the first to discover the savory taste of the amino acid glutamic acid, which was found to occur in soup stocks made with seaweed. This fifth basic taste—alongside sweet, sour, salty, and bitter—was named umami, meaning "savoriness" in Japanese. Umami can be experienced in foods such as mushrooms, anchovies, and mature cheeses, as well as in foods enhanced with monosodium glutamate, or MSG, a sodium salt derived from glutamic acid.

Examples of umami in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The finished condiment will be full-bodied, complex, and a tad sweet: liquid umami. Megan Zhang, Saveur, 9 May 2024 This take combines the best elements of those two: the aromatics of the gin and the umami of the fish sauce (fish sauce doesn’t actually taste like fish, just like Clamato doesn’t actually taste like clam). Jeff Burkhart, The Mercury News, 19 Apr. 2024
Adjective
The three- to seven-day aging process develops the purest form of umami, acting as a natural tenderizer and sweetening the meat, Yasu said. Lily O'Neill, The Denver Post, 29 May 2024 Ketchup: Amp up the umami flavor with a hint of sweetness. Southern Living Test Kitchen, Southern Living, 5 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for umami 

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

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Japanese, savoriness, flavor

First Known Use

Noun

1963, in the meaning defined above

Adjective

1978, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of umami was in 1963

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Dictionary Entries Near umami

Cite this Entry

“Umami.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/umami. Accessed 23 Jun. 2024.

Medical Definition

umami

noun
uma·​mi ü-ˈmä-mē How to pronounce umami (audio)
: a taste sensation that is meaty or savory and is produced by several amino acids and nucleotides (as aspartate, inosinate, and glutamate)
umami adjective

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