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

Whisk together oil, half-and-half, sugar, vanilla, coconut extract, and whole egg in a separate bowl until smooth. Emily Nabors Hall, Country Living, "Speckled Malted Coconut Cake," 8 Mar. 2019 In a large bowl, beat heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla until cream begins to thicken slightly. Woman's Day Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Carrot Cookie Cake," 7 Mar. 2019 Place cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "Success with this Fourth of July cake is worth celebrating," 30 June 2018 Wayback Burgers will give out free 12-ounce black-and-white shakes (vanilla bean ice cream, milk, vanilla syrup and Hershey's chocolate syrup) to all customers on Thursday from 10:30 a.m. until closing. Benjy Egel, sacbee, "This fast-food chain is giving out free milkshakes to celebrate summer solstice on Thursday," 20 June 2018 Not to be missed are the Ricotta Pancakes ($14), a stack of three flapjacks drizzled with a Sicilian-style honey and vanilla syrup. Julia Sayers, AL.com, "Try this innovative Italian restaurant in the Pizitz Food Hall," 7 Feb. 2018 Warm, sweet, gourmand, sticky, like iced coffee with a few extra pumps of vanilla syrup. Tynan Sinks, Allure, "Sunset Fantasy Is Britney Spears's Most Decadent Dessert Perfume Yet," 25 Jan. 2018 At Gram & Dun, the best nonalcoholic seller is the Wild Cider, made with fresh blackberries, lemon juice, vanilla syrup and Louisburg Apple Cider. Anne Brockhoff, kansascity, "Low-alcohol, no-alcohol cocktails trending in KC | The Kansas City Star," 9 Jan. 2018 Oder a Coke, but ask the bartender to tart it up with a lime wedge, vanilla syrup, or a sugared rim and umbrella. Health.com, "How to Survive Weekends When You're Doing Dry January," 5 Jan. 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

20 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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Comments on vanilla

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