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

Stir in the eggs and vanilla, then the flour, baking soda, and sea salt, mixing until everything is well combined. Ashley Rodriguez, Woman's Day, "Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars," 10 Apr. 2019 Gelato The food court offers up three different flavors of this Italian treat: Pistachio, chocolate, and stracciatella (which is vanilla with chocolate shavings). Alex Aronson, Redbook, "The 14 Best Costco Food Court Menu Items, Ranked," 4 Apr. 2019 Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, sour cream, potato starch, vanilla, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 3/4 cup sugar in large bowl until smooth. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Strawberry Coconut-Crust Cheesecake," 11 Mar. 2019 Scrape down the sides with a silicone spatula and mix in the eggs, vanilla, baking powder and salt. Alison Roman, The Seattle Times, "‘We are all connected by cookies’: A tribe with a bond stronger than royal icing," 12 Dec. 2018 Combine heavy cream, ginger, vanilla, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 2 cups milk in a medium saucepan. Kate Merker And Taylor Murray, Country Living, "Gingerbread Eggnog," 11 Dec. 2018 Likewise, a very clever series of crystal brooches were used to ornament Butrym’s other shoes, allowing a vanilla leather heel to shift easily between work and play. Monica Kim, Vogue, "Magda Butrym Is Nostalgic for an ’80s Moment Warsaw Never Knew," 17 Apr. 2019 Can’t wait to share a vanilla cookie (or 5) with you back in Van! Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "'When Calls the Heart' Star Erin Krakow Posts Cryptic Message After Lori Loughlin's College Scandal," 9 Apr. 2019 It's made from the same rice ingredient as Mochi, resulting in a lightly color batter and a delicious rich, buttery vanilla flavor. Sophia Caraballo, Woman's Day, "Trader Joe's Is Releasing 7 New Products for Spring and Summer," 9 Apr. 2019

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

6 May 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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