umami

noun
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

umami

adjective

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

Keep scrolling for more

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, SFChronicle.com, "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. BostonGlobe.com, "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.

See More

First Known Use of umami

Noun

1963, in the meaning defined above

Adjective

1978, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for umami

Noun

Japanese, savoriness, flavor

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about umami

Time Traveler for umami

Time Traveler

The first known use of umami was in 1963

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about umami

Statistics for umami

Last Updated

1 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Umami.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/umami. Accessed 22 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for umami

umami

noun
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

More from Merriam-Webster on umami

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about umami

Comments on umami

What made you want to look up umami? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!