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 The new cider, according to Blake's, is a tribute to its apple orchard roots along with hints of cinnamon and vanilla. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, 4 June 2021 Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 25 May 2021 For the simplest no-ice-cream milkshake, simply blend ice cubes with milk, sugar, and a dash of vanilla extract. Zoe Denenberg, Southern Living, 14 May 2021 Bitters contain a minimal amount of alcohol, similar to vanilla extract. Erin Booke, Dallas News, 14 May 2021 The iconic raw materials that go into our flavors, black pepper, vanilla or cinnamon, for example, are grown in areas that are tremendously sensitive to both climate change and social change. Jeff Fromm, Forbes, 13 May 2021 Try the Horchata Golden Stout, laced with the vanilla and cinnamon notes for which the Mexican drink is famous; or the Blood Saison, inspired by agua de jamaica, a hibiscus tea that's popular across Latin America. Debra Kamin, Condé Nast Traveler, 29 Apr. 2021 In the mouth, vanilla and cinnamon are the dominant notes. Jason O'bryan, Robb Report, 27 Apr. 2021 The dairy-free formula stirs small pieces of darkly bitter chocolate into steamed coconut milk, a decadent mixture that's lightly sweetened with raw cane sugar and perfumed with vanilla and cinnamon. Sharyn Jackson, Star Tribune, 11 Dec. 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

9 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Vanilla.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vanilla. Accessed 13 Jun. 2021.

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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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