veg·e·tar·i·an | \ˌve-jə-ˈter-ē-ən \

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

What follows here is Huegel riffing on plant romance, manipulative orchids, promiscuous asters, Florida’s lazy bees and what vegetarians are missing. Kevin Spear,, "Garden sex is passionate, smart, Florida ecologist says," 26 Apr. 2018 The trips will obviously appeal to global travelers who opt out of traditional food tours but also offer meat eaters and vegetarians a way to try out veganism, with the bonus of exotic settings. Diane Daniel,, "Intrepid Travel launches vegan tours," 26 June 2018 The Denton menu is relatively small, with a handful of empanada (both savory and sweet) and taco choices (for carnivores and vegetarians), a couple of sandwiches, yuca fries, daily specials and more, as well as aguas frescas, beer and wine drinks. Robert Philpot, star-telegram, "A Denton fave is bringing its Latin American street food to Keller | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 21 May 2018 Iron is found in meat, fish, and other animal products, plus beans and legumes, so vegans and vegetarians might be more likely to be low in iron. Jane Chertoff, SELF, "This Is Why Your Eyebrows Are Thinner Than They Used to Be—and What to Do About It," 13 July 2018 Frederickson is a vegan and Kenneally was an ethical vegetarian, which also helped them connect. Leor Galil, Chicago Reader, "Music / RIP Remembering soundman and musician Patrick Kenneally, who nurtured scenes in Chicago and Portland," 18 June 2018 French cuisine traditionally relies heavily on meat and dairy, and vegetarians and vegans make up a tiny minority of the population. Time, "French Butchers Want Protection From 'Militant' Vegans," 27 June 2018 Of course, the options for vegetarians and vegans have vastly improved over the years, particularly in cities. Anna Orso,, "This is what happens when a popular West Philly taco joint goes full vegan," 27 June 2018 There’s a fresh take on potato skins with brown butter-caper yogurt and smoked paprika aioli, and even a ratatouille (fortunately prepared by humans, not rats) for vegetarians, as well as a lengthy list of craft cocktail (and mocktails). Pam Kragen,, "Pixar Pier debuts Saturday at Disney California park," 22 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

There is a children’s menu, vegetarian menu and gluten-free menu. Donald Liebenson,, "Guide to outdoor dining in Chicago suburbs: Beelow's NorthShore in Highland Park," 11 July 2018 The crack McCalls crew served an all-vegetarian menu. Catherine Bigelow, San Francisco Chronicle, "San Francisco SPCA raises the woof (and $1.8 million) at 150th anniversary gala," 23 Apr. 2018 Her menu is designed to heal the body with a largely vegan and vegetarian menu of nutritionally dense ingredients plated with more than a few nods to Latin America. San Antonio Express-News, "Pharm Table," 8 Mar. 2018 Vegan and vegetarian menus are available upon request, and an extensive drink menu from the full-service bar features coastal-themed cocktails, Oregon and Washington wines and famous Pelican brews on tap. Special To The Oregonian,, "Gerry Frank's picks: Head to Headlands for a relaxing Pacific City getaway," 2 Mar. 2018 Patrons raved about the tasty food, the vegetarian options, and the welcoming staff. Jessica Mendoza, The Christian Science Monitor, "In Red Hen aftermath, a community wades through nation's vitriol," 29 June 2018 At this stage during testing, for example, a Duplex call to the Thai restaurant would not be able to order take-out food, or answer a query, say, about vegetarian menu options. Edward C. Baig, USA TODAY, "Google shows off how Duplex can call restaurants, first identifying itself as a bot," 27 June 2018 In doing so, the bar tightened up its wine list to focus on more up- and-coming Australian producers and made the menu more local and vegetarian-friendly. Patrick Thomas, WSJ, "America’s Coolest Drinking City," 22 June 2018 Stop at Blue Horse Beach Café for good views, vibes and vegetarian-friendly food. Travel Wisconsin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Five places for the best brunches in Wisconsin," 10 June 2018

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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Last Updated

29 Sep 2018

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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 \

Kids Definition of vegetarian

: a person who does not eat meat


veg·e·tar·i·an | \ˌvej-ə-ˈter-ē-ən \

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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