vanilla

noun
va·​nil·​la | \ və-ˈni-lə How to pronounce vanilla (audio) , -ˈne- How to pronounce vanilla (audio) \

Definition of vanilla

 (Entry 1 of 2)

b : a commercially important extract of the vanilla bean that is used especially as a flavoring
2 : any of a genus (Vanilla) of tropical American climbing epiphytic orchids

vanilla

adjective

Definition of vanilla (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : flavored with vanilla
2 : lacking distinction : plain, ordinary, conventional

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Did You Know?

Adjective

For lexicographers, vanilla has more flavor than chocolate, because it adds a tasty synonym for plain to the English menu. The noun vanilla was first served up in 1662, but it took almost 200 years for its adjective use to become established for things, like ice and sugar, flavored with vanilla. By the 1970s vanilla was perceived as being the plain flavor of the ice-cream world, and people began using the word itself to describe anything plain, ordinary, or conventional.

Examples of vanilla in a Sentence

Noun

The frosting is flavored with vanilla.

Adjective

The décor is pretty vanilla. a plain vanilla version of a song that's been recorded more times than necessary
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Whipped Cream 1 cup heavy cream 1 teaspoon superfine sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract In a stand mixer with the whip attachment, beat heavy cream on low until frothy, about 1 minute. Dallas News, "2-minute cooking expert: How to make the perfect whipped cream (plus a boozy twist)," 10 July 2019 Kevin Kvistad, 60, of Burnsville, pours vanilla extract into his palms and then rubs his hands around his head and neck before venturing outside. Kris Maher, WSJ, "The Black Fly Is Here for Your Blood—and Dignity," 16 June 2019 Add the vanilla extract and the oil, beating to blend well. Jessie Sheehan, Washington Post, "With cream cheese frosting and festive sprinkles, this one-bowl cake is an everyday celebration," 10 June 2019 That's far more intriguing -- and addictive -- than plain chocolate or vanilla. Molly Kimball, nola.com, "Ever feel addicted to food? You’re not alone: Best of Molly Kimball," 25 June 2019 Chocolate, vanilla and swirls are available, with plans to stay in Venice through July. Hadley Tomicki, latimes.com, "Jeremy Fox to open Birdie G's this week, Pizzana in WeHo and Leo's Tacos in the SFV," 18 June 2019 The flavor choices include your usual chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry; the last of which turned our team of strawberry ice cream haters into loyal converts. Michelle Santiago Cortés, refinery29.com, "Oatly’s Oat Milk Ice Cream Is Here & It’s Seriously Delicious," 15 June 2019 Place the flour, cocoa, sugar, eggs, milk, butter, dark chocolate and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Margaux Laskey, The Seattle Times, "Wrap up one of these sweet cookbooks for the home bakers in your life," 11 Dec. 2018 Whisk in the chocolate, vanilla extract and butter, until smooth. Rebecca Powers, chicagotribune.com, "A German baker has taken pie art to a mesmerizing new level," 19 June 2018

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

Noun

1662, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adjective

1846, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for vanilla

Noun

borrowed from New Latin, borrowed from Spanish vainilla "the vanilla plant and fruit," diminutive of vaina "sheath, pod," going back to Latin vāgīna "scabbard, sheath"; replacing earlier vaynilla, borrowed from Spanish

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Statistics for vanilla

Last Updated

15 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for vanilla

The first known use of vanilla was in 1662

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More Definitions for vanilla

vanilla

noun

English Language Learners Definition of vanilla

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a dark substance that is made from the beans of a tropical plant and that is used to flavor food

vanilla

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of vanilla (Entry 2 of 2)

: having the flavor of vanilla
chiefly US, informal : not having any special features or qualities

vanilla

noun
va·​nil·​la | \ və-ˈni-lə How to pronounce vanilla (audio) , -ˈne-\

Kids Definition of vanilla

: a substance extracted from vanilla beans and used as a flavoring especially for sweet foods and beverages

vanilla

noun
va·​nil·​la | \ və-ˈnil-ə How to pronounce vanilla (audio) , -ˈnel- How to pronounce vanilla (audio) \

Medical Definition of vanilla

b : a commercially important extract of the vanilla bean that is prepared by soaking comminuted vanilla beans in water and ethyl alcohol and that is used especially as a flavoring (as in pharmaceutical preparations)
2 : any of a genus (Vanilla) of tropical American climbing orchids

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Comments on vanilla

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