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

Observational data suggest that lifelong vegetarians and vegans actually have a lower risk of dementia than meat eaters. Nutrition Diva Monica Reinagel, Scientific American, "Is a Vegetarian Diet Bad for Your Brain?," 2 Aug. 2019 Under Niccol, who took over in 2018, Chipotle has added new salad bowls to cater to consumers on paleo and ketogenic diets, and has also introduced more menu options for vegetarians and vegans. Danielle Wiener-bronner, CNN, "Chipotle is soaring. Sales rose 10% last quarter," 23 July 2019 But vegetarians won’t be let down after climbing the Tourmalet. Washington Post, "Taste of the Tour: A festival of lard at high altitude," 20 July 2019 And vegetarians and vegans can rejoice with options that go beyond french fries, salads and fruit. Priscella Vega,, "O.C. Fair applies finishing touches to open ‘Acres of Fun’ in Costa Mesa," 7 July 2019 The house special, a tagliatelle made with black pepper, Parmigiana, crab and uni cream, is umami magic, while the Impossible Bolognese satisfies vegetarians and carnivores alike. Jessica Yadegaran, The Mercury News, "Saratoga’s Mountain Winery: 3 great restaurants before the show," 3 July 2019 Bombay Darbar’s menu is big and features many options for vegetarians and vegans. Michael Mayo,, "Review: Bombay Darbar brings some new flavor (Indian) to Las Olas," 13 June 2019 Like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, Perdue's new line isn't aimed at vegetarians or vegans, but rather at the broader market of Americans looking to cut back on their meat consumption. Kate Gibson, CBS News, "Perdue Foods dips its chicken into sprouting plant-based foods biz," 12 June 2019 While vegans and vegetarians are, for obvious reasons, a primary target audience for the products, some don’t seem to like them. Cait Munro,, "Beyond Burger Stock Is Soaring, But For Some Vegetarians, It's More Sizzle Than Steak," 20 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The Den, with locations at The Lab in Costa Mesa and downtown Santa Ana, is known for its artsy, counterculture sensibilities and vegetarian and vegan food. Hillary Davis, Daily Pilot, "Gypsy Den café changes its name out of respect for Romani people, who find ‘G-word’ offensive," 26 July 2019 The popular periodic celebrations of vegetarian and vegan cuisine give metro Detroit restaurants, food trucks and caterers a chance to show off their meat-free creations and connect with folks devoted to healthful living. Greg Crawford, Detroit Free Press, "The weekend: Golf tales from David Feherty, Balloonfest, festivals in Trenton and Taylor," 26 June 2019 Miller has dined at establishments from San Francisco to Chicago serving African-American cuisine that’s traditional and health-conscious or vegetarian and vegan or upscale and fusion. Josie Sexton, The Denver Post, "Where has Denver’s soul food gone? In a historically black neighborhood, the last restaurant of its kind turns 20," 12 June 2019 Chapple created the salad for a vegetarian friend who wanted a version of a chicken salad. Kristine M. Kierzek, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Salad love: Creative, anything-goes approach will win your heart," 17 Apr. 2018 The rest of my stay, for which tickets would be $2,400 for the general public, would include all-vegetarian meals, a stay in one of these canvas tents with a mattress bed and a list of amenities that any Brooklyn hotel would be proud to boast. Angie Jaime, Teen Vogue, "The Aniwa Gathering Connected Me to My Indigenous Ancestors," 2 Aug. 2019 Sour, smoky and downright delicious, this lemony rice is a South Indian delight that makes the perfect base for a vegetarian meal. Kari Sonde, Washington Post, "Start your grain bowl right with these 5 jazzy rice recipes," 1 Aug. 2019 India’s growing population, rising disposable incomes, and changing food habits are boosting the consumption of non-vegetarian food, according to CLFMA, an association of Indian feed manufacturers., "Consumers warned of fake websites for Equifax settlement," 31 July 2019 This corn stock can be delicious for the base of a vegetarian soup or a corn risotto or creamed corn. Liz Biro, Indianapolis Star, "The best way to cook corn on the cob according to Food Network's Alex Guarnaschelli," 30 July 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

18 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

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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