uma·​mi | \ ü-ˈmä-mē How to pronounce umami (audio) \

Definition of umami

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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



Definition of umami (Entry 2 of 2)

: 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

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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 rousing symphonies of Tchaikovsky and Mozart, the heavy, expensive knives and forks, the umami smells arising from the fish, the swirling of wine glasses half filled with Pouilly-Fuisse. Sona Bahadur, Quartz India, "The pandemic has taken away the delight of companionship while having a meal," 17 Sep. 2020 The Shake Ridge Ranch rendition combines floral aromas of violets and roses with an intense umami. Esther Mobley,, "Petite Sirah, one of California’s most maligned wines, gets a lighter, better makeover," 1 Sep. 2020 The garlic olive oil flavor was super savory and rich, the chipotle had just the right amount of umami for a spicy chicken bowl, and the ginger scallion was perfect stir-fried with veggies and an egg. Tanya Edwards, CNN Underscored, "We tried Banza’s 3 new chickpea rice flavors, and here’s what we think," 8 July 2020 Another way to add saltiness and umami (savoriness) to stir fries. NBC News, "Put down that takeout menu: stir-fry basics for home cooks," 13 Oct. 2019 The coconut milk adds nuttiness and creamy-ness, the fish sauce adds umami (which roughly translates to the word savory-ness) and both are easy to find in the Asian section of the supermarket, or online. Katie Workman, NBC News, "Move over, chicken noodle. Here are 6 twists on chicken soup you'll love," 6 Jan. 2020 Each mouthful is intoxicatingly woodsy, packed with deep umami., "Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe," 18 Sep. 2019 The match was nonetheless spot-on, the sherry’s whiplash acidity and caramelized-walnut flavor balancing the soup’s profound umami. Adam Erace, Fortune, "Charleston Restaurant is the most relaxed formal dining experience in Baltimore," 8 Mar. 2020 Take the Soft Scrambled Farm Eggs starter that’s elevated to the stuff of legends with the addition of umami-packed winter black truffles, salty lardons, and garlic croutons from housemade bread. al, "These are the 10 best restaurants in Birmingham in 2020," 3 Mar. 2020

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


1963, in the meaning defined above


1978, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for umami


Japanese, savoriness, flavor

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The first known use of umami was in 1963

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Last Updated

1 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Umami.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for umami


uma·​mi | \ ü-ˈmä-mē How to pronounce umami (audio) \

Medical Definition of umami

: a taste sensation that is meaty or savory and is produced by several amino acids and nucleotides (as aspartate, inosinate, and glutamate)

Other Words from umami

umami adjective

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