veg·​e·​tar·​i·​an | \ ˌve-jə-ˈter-ē-ən How to pronounce vegetarian (audio) \

Definition of vegetarian

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a person who does not eat meat : someone whose diet consists wholly of vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, and sometimes eggs or dairy products
2 : herbivore



Definition of vegetarian (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or suitable for vegetarians a vegetarian restaurant
2 : not containing meat : consisting wholly of vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, and sometimes eggs or dairy products a vegetarian diet vegetarian lunch

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The Difference Between Vegetarian, Vegan, and Other Diets

The word vegetarian sprouted up in 1839. Fruitarian ("a person who lives on fruit") ripened by 1893. In 1944, vegetarians who consume no animal or dairy products began calling themselves vegans. Then, in 1993, those who eat fish but no other meat chose pesce, the Italian word for "fish," to create the designation pescatarian. In that same year, meatatarian was served up as a word for those whose diet largely includes meat; that word is rare, however, and is usually used in informal and humorous ways, making it the type of fare not included in our dictionaries. Another fairly recent dietary word is flexitarian, a person who follows a mostly vegetarian diet but occasionally eats meat or fish.

Examples of vegetarian in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

While early veggie burgers were almost exclusively purchased by vegetarians, Brown says that 93 percent of Beyond Meat customers buy regular meat too, suggesting the company has succeeded at making something that appeals to meat eaters. Kelsey Piper, Vox, "There’s a new meatless Beyond Burger. It tastes even more like meat.," 11 June 2019 Vegetarian Egg McMuffin at McDonald’s Breakfast food is probably where vegetarians have the most meat-free options. Sophia Caraballo, Woman's Day, "10 Fast-Food Options for Vegetarians," 17 Apr. 2019 The restaurant has become known for its vegetable barbecue ($19), which will make vegetarians rejoice. Michael Bauer, San Francisco Chronicle, "The Perennial makes environmental activism taste good," 25 May 2018 Horwitz recommends eating fatty fish every other day; vegetarians can sprinkle walnuts or flaxseed on cereal. Kim Tranell, Redbook, "Eat These Foods to Fight Allergies," 25 Feb. 2013 The restaurant, The Hart and the Hunter, serves southern food, including a hearty option that will please vegetarians: the Smoked BBQ Mushroom Sandwich. Ella Riley-adams, Vogue, "The Best New Places to Eat, Stay, and Play in Seattle," 10 Jan. 2019 Who doesn’t love hot bacon dressing (besides vegetarians)? Anna Thomas Bates, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Fresh asparagus is even better with hot bacon dressing," 16 May 2018 In the early 1900s, a German eccentric named August Engelhardt, author of the obscure manifesto A Carefree Future, established a sun-worshipping colony on this chain, at its height numbering around 15 naked vegetarians from Europe. Sophy Roberts, Condé Nast Traveler, "Navigating Tradition and Tourism in Papua New Guinea," 3 May 2018 Barbecue lovers, vegetarians included, should keep an eye out for the Beach Bum truck May 18. Liz Biro, Indianapolis Star, "These are the best Indianapolis food and drink events in May," 23 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The Bonzo Boi - a chickpea vegetarian counterpart to the Good Boi - offers contrasting textures, with crunchy exterior and tender interior. Marc Bona,, "Good Company finds niche with well-made, affordable sandwiches," 20 June 2019 This pasta dish from Alice Hart, one of my favorite vegetarian cookbook authors, reminds me of that casserole. Joe Yonan, Washington Post, "Forget crisp-tender. Cook broccoli longer and it becomes as comforting as this bowl of pasta.," 16 June 2019 Down, out this Friday, will do a good job of shattering any lingering childhood illusions of vegetarian sharks or musical crustaceans. Elena Nicolaou,, "These Terrifying Movies Will Ruin Your Beach Vacation," 15 June 2019 All the boxes have been checked: seafood platter, Parker House rolls, steak tartare, fish tacos, vegetarian pasta main, steak, duet of duck, et al. Soleil Ho,, "The Vault, San Francisco’s new Financial District blockbuster, comes up empty," 13 June 2019 Diners can’t go wrong with any sandwich (including prosciutto, salami or vegetarian options such as mozzarella with eggplant or tomato) on any focaccia (plain, garlic with rosemary, tomato with basil, artichoke with olive). Michael Mayo,, "Publix subs are good (but not with chicken tenders). These are better. Our critic rates local sub shops.," 13 June 2019 The competing food companies, which have grown rapidly over the past year, might be famous for creating vegetarian burgers that look, taste, and bleed like beef. Emily Atkin, The New Republic, "The Promise and Problem of Fake Meat," 7 June 2019 The fast-casual restaurant serves health-conscious Mexican food, including options for vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian and keto diners. Lauren Saria, azcentral, "Pizza, tacos, beer and churros: 17 new restaurants opened in metro Phoenix in May," 4 June 2019 All-day menu will be vegetarian-focused (example: eggplant barbacoa on nopales tortillas), though meat will also be served. Michael Klein,, "Rex 1516 to move into South Street’s historic Royal Theater as owners also expand into Kensington," 4 June 2019

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


1842, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1843, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for vegetarian


veget(able) entry 1 + -arian

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Statistics for vegetarian

Last Updated

23 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for vegetarian

The first known use of vegetarian was in 1842

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More Definitions for vegetarian


veg·​e·​tar·​i·​an | \ ˌve-jə-ˈter-ē-ən How to pronounce vegetarian (audio) \

Kids Definition of vegetarian

: a person who does not eat meat


veg·​e·​tar·​i·​an | \ ˌvej-ə-ˈter-ē-ən How to pronounce vegetarian (audio) \

Medical Definition of vegetarian

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an individual who believes in or practices vegetarianism



Medical Definition of vegetarian (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of or relating to vegetarians
2 : consisting wholly of vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, and sometimes eggs or dairy products a vegetarian diet

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More from Merriam-Webster on vegetarian

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with vegetarian

Spanish Central: Translation of vegetarian

Nglish: Translation of vegetarian for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of vegetarian for Arabic Speakers

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