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

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 Stuff mushrooms with marinara, mozzarella and breadcrumbs for an easy, delicious dinner that will satisfy meat-lovers and vegetarians, alike. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Portobello Parmesan," 7 Jan. 2017 Plenty of vegetarians and vegans still wear leather accessories. Emily Farra, Vogue, "Is Faux Leather Even Better Than the Real Thing? These 3 Designers Say Yes," 8 Nov. 2018 The couple noticed vegans and vegetarians had no options when the Beach Bum Barbecue truck was at public events. Liz Biro, Indianapolis Star, "This barbecue event is 100 percent vegan," 15 Feb. 2018 Make a big salad and grilled vegetables for the vegetarians. Kerry Pieri, Harper's BAZAAR, "Derek Lam's Holiday Entertaining Musts," 8 Dec. 2014

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Photo: Rebecca Greenfield for The Wall Street Journal The Diet Mr. Amin is vegetarian. Jen Murphy, WSJ, "His Gym Class Turns Into a Bollywood Musical," 9 Feb. 2019 Christina Pirello of South Philadelphia, who’s been a vegetarian and a vegan for 30 years, has written seven cookbooks and published works about the stigma of veganism. Anna Orso,, "This is what happens when a popular West Philly taco joint goes full vegan," 27 June 2018 The teeth matched descriptions provided by Hitler's dentist and revealed no trace of meat — consistent with the fact that the Führer was vegetarian. Jefferson Chase, USA TODAY, "Hitler's teeth analysis dispels myths of Nazi leader's survival," 21 May 2018 As a vegetarian, powdered collagen is usually a no-go for me, but Bacon's vegan version happily fit into my morning cup(s) of black coffee. Sarah Kinonen, Allure, "Moon Juice Expands to Skin Care With New Beauty Shroom Line," 7 June 2018 Bonus: Many of the dishes are gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan, and absolutely just as delicious for it. Bethany Jean Clement, The Seattle Times, "An all-you-can-eat secret at one of Seattle’s best restaurants: brunch at Joule," 16 Oct. 2018 And, there's a vegetarian version featuring squash blossoms instead of pork. Scarlett Lindeman, Bon Appetit, "The Best Healthy Restaurants in Mexico City," 28 Mar. 2018 Dine à la carte or enjoy the eight-course tasting menu (there’s a creative vegetarian version too); Saturday nights also offer a five-course tasting menu. Sophie Davies, Condé Nast Traveler, "29 Best Restaurants in Sydney," 14 Mar. 2018 Flay’s bacon-and-egg version didn’t impress the judges as much as Jones’ surprising vegetarian version. Gwen Ashley Walters, azcentral, "Will one of Sedona's best chefs 'Beat Bobby Flay' on Food Network? Tune in May 24," 6 Feb. 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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Statistics for vegetarian

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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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