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

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 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

This is one of the most popular vegetarian/vegan recipes on the web, with good reason. Lauren Oster, Redbook, "My Favorite Meatless Recipes," 22 Mar. 2010 Rick Slager sent this vegetarian recipe from Bon Appetit, which inspired one of the most popular meal kits from his CSA farm, Produce with Purpose. Kristine M. Kierzek, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "CSAs in flux: Farm subscription models take on new flavors," 5 Mar. 2018 The menu: Five taco options: three meat and two vegetarian options. Tan Vinh, The Seattle Times, "Hidden on Capitol Hill, a Mexican street-food spot draws raves," 23 Oct. 2018 At lunch, the sandwich roster will include a steak and egg, a meatball Parm and a salt-and-pepper squid, as well as a smash burger and a pair of vegetarian options. Heidi Williams,, "We tried 'Dragon's Breath,' the new treat that lets you breathe smoke, sort of (video)," 6 June 2018 Carbon Engineering The book also has nothing about behavior change — no turning off lights or going vegetarian. David Roberts, Vox, "Climate change policy can be overwhelming. Here’s a guide to the policies that work.," 30 Nov. 2018 With the help of your Dutch Oven, this vegetarian soup can be made in just 30 minutes. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Roasted Red Pepper Soup," 24 Oct. 2018 Its vegetarian variation was more like a veggie stir-fry stuffed in a corn tortilla. Tan Vinh, The Seattle Times, "Hidden on Capitol Hill, a Mexican street-food spot draws raves," 23 Oct. 2018 So much for the vegetarian lifestyle Jen touted on Facebook. Lauren Smiley, Glamour, "Two White Moms. Six Black Kids. One Unthinkable Tragedy. A Look Inside the ‘Perfect’ Hart Family," 6 Sep. 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

Last Updated

22 Dec 2018

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 \

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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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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