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 In a medium bowl, beat together milk, ricotta cheese, egg, vanilla and lemon zest. Darlene Zimmerman, Detroit Free Press, "Top pancakes with strawberry and rhubarb sauce loaded with vitamin C," 26 June 2020 Add the peanut butter, vanilla and egg and mix until well combined. cleveland, "Want to drastically improve your cooking? Get the right types of salt and use them well," 23 June 2020 Marshmallow Buttercream: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream 1 cup unsalted room temperature butter, 4 cups powdered sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract for about 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Dallas News, "Summer nostalgia: How to make your own oatmeal cream pies," 18 June 2020 End with dark chocolate bread pudding or caramelized fig and Madagascar vanilla creme brûlée. Georgann Yara, azcentral, "Father's Day 2020: 48 metro Phoenix restaurants with special deals for dine-in and takeout," 15 June 2020 The kit serves four and includes French meringue, vanilla Chantilly cream, raspberry sauce and a pint of peach sorbet. Abigail Rosenthal, Houston Chronicle, "Underbelly, Rosie Cannonball creating dessert packs for 'Bakers Against Racism'," 16 June 2020 Root Beer mixed with all-natural vanilla ice cream. Georgann Yara, azcentral, "Father's Day 2020: 48 metro Phoenix restaurants with special deals for dine-in and takeout," 15 June 2020 Stafford suggests adding vanilla extract, fresh strawberries or melted chocolate to the jar. Lesley Kennedy, CNN Underscored, "Everything you need to make ice cream in a Mason jar," 15 June 2020 This flourless vanilla cake is topped with white chocolate mousse, chocolate glaze and Butterfinger pieces, then finished with white chocolate. Dallas News, "Dallas-Fort Worth restaurants offering Father’s Day specials," 13 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for vanilla

Time Traveler

The first known use of vanilla was in 1662

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Statistics for vanilla

Last Updated

2 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Vanilla.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vanilla. Accessed 4 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for vanilla

vanilla

noun
How to pronounce vanilla (audio) How to pronounce vanilla (audio)

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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