uma·​mi | \ü-ˈmä-mē \

Definition of umami 

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

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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

As the mother sauce traveled through different places and times, ingredients like mushrooms, tamarind and anchovies were deployed to imitate its satisfying umami; Worcestershire sauce and Indonesian kecap manis are both popular descendants. Julia Moskin, New York Times, "Mastering Chinese-Style Ribs at Home," 9 July 2018 That’s right—the person who discovered umami is the same person who created MSG. Yvette D'entremont, SELF, "We All Really Need to Stop Freaking Out About MSG," 20 June 2018 There was just enough cheese to add its satisfying umami without being heavy, and the tomato sauce, quickly cooked, was the perfect sweet-acid component to balance the fried eggplant slices. Evan Kleiman,, "Cucina Italiana: The joy of eggplant. Try making a timbale," 5 July 2018 Dried seaweed flakes added a bit of crunch, umami and nutrients when strewn over salads, rice dishes and seafood pasta. Florence Fabricant, New York Times, "Coming Soon to a Grocery Near You," 9 July 2018 And those oysters lend tons of umami and rich savoriness to the sauce. Alex Delany, Bon Appetit, "What Exactly Is Oyster Sauce? And What to Use if You Can't Find Any," 4 June 2018 These shrimp skewers have it all: sweetness (sugar and honey), acidity (rice vinegar), salt and umami (fish sauce), heat (chile-garlic sauce), and smoke (from the grill). Sally Pasley Vargas,, "Recipe: Sweet, spicy shrimp on skewers turn smoky after a few minutes on the grill," 21 May 2018 Adam Fleischman has built a culinary industry around the idea of umami. Chris Ross,, "Blender gazpacho has umami flavors," 9 July 2018 The key ingredient is peanut butter, whose salty smoothness hits the American cheese, bacon, and beef with an extra bomb of umami. Michael Klein,, "Peanut butter and bacon - and a burger," 20 June 2018

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

History and Etymology for umami

Japanese, savoriness, flavor

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Last Updated

30 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for umami

The first known use of umami was in 1963

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uma·​mi | \ü-ˈmä-mē \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on umami

See words that rhyme with umami Encyclopedia article about umami

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