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 stew also has other nourishing produce like hearts of palm and plantains, and the moqueca’s yellow broth with yuca and coconut adds brightness, depth and umami. Andy Wang, Robb Report, 29 Sep. 2021 Ono’s vegetarian variation ($12.50) forgoes the beef, instead amping up the umami with roasted vegetables. Soleil Ho, San Francisco Chronicle, 16 Sep. 2021 Combining the best flavors of both Asian and Mexican street food, this restaurant in the city center serves the umami and spice-packed flavors found across Asian cuisine styles with Mexican dishes and vice versa. Jamie Ditaranto, Travel + Leisure, 5 Aug. 2021 The dressing is a party of flavors — blackberries again, but also garlic, olive oil, honey and bright Champagne vinegar invigorated by the complex umami of fish sauce. San Diego Union-Tribune, 28 July 2021 Bang bang chicken is a Sichuan dish that’s full of big flavors: the earthiness of sesame oil, the rich umami of chicken fat, the tingle of chile oil, the sharp kick of Chinese black vinegar and the cooling heat of ginger. Washington Post, 8 July 2021 This fried chicken takes on the umami of anchovy, the pungency of garlic, heat and spice for a quartet of flavors. Christian Reynoso, San Francisco Chronicle, 24 June 2021 Try fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce or coconut aminos for salty umami. Washington Post, 16 June 2021 On the palate, this is kissed with sweet herbs and anise, yet there is a core of soy sauce-like umami that resolves in flavors of blackberries, black olives, currants, cedar, scorched earth, and mineral. Brian Freedman, Forbes, 3 June 2021

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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Last Updated

2 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Umami.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Oct. 2021.

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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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