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 Participants can learn about cooking without recipes, food as medicine, culinary classics, vegan, vegetarian, desserts and more. Elaine Rewolinski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Food and drink news: Stone Creek Pixel Packs, Valentine's dinner," 22 Jan. 2021 The former American Idol winner is a big animal lover who grew up on a cattle farm and credits the experience for inspiring her to become a vegetarian. Tierney Mcafee, Country Living, "Carrie Underwood's Husband Mike Fisher Gave Her Two Cows for Christmas," 20 Dec. 2020 Local chef Hari Pulapaka, whose DeLand restaurant Cress was the readers’ pick for Best Overall Restaurant in last year’s Orlando Sentinel Foodie Awards (and not without drama), was a vegetarian for the first 21 years of his life. Amy Drew Thompson,, "New book invites readers to join local chef’s ‘sinfully vegetarian odyssey’," 28 Feb. 2020 Other shawarma offerings are beef, lamb and vegetarian, also $5.95. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "Bucharest Grill opens Monday in Royal Oak's Woodward Corners," 7 Dec. 2020 One woman who had been a vegetarian for decades suddenly felt a need to have a roast turkey on the table. Becky Krystal, Washington Post, "143 years of Thanksgiving coverage in The Post," 9 Nov. 2020 Singh has been a vegetarian for 12 years and loved the idea of participating in their advice-giving campaign. Brittany Loggins, NBC News, "This is Lilly Singh's Know Your Value moment," 2 Nov. 2020 The restaurant will have two soups, one chicken, one vegetarian, and appetizers or snacks including guacamole, queso fundido and flautas that are filled with chicken or potato and bean. Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The cheel's owners will open Daily Taco nearby in Thiensville," 21 Oct. 2020 Going vegetarian was not an overnight change for me. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "The Book I Always Recommend to People Thinking About Going Vegetarian," 5 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Serves 4 To celebrate the Chinese New Year -- the Year of the Ox -- which begins on the evening of Feb. 11, families gather to make dumplings filled with ground pork, Napa cabbage, and garlic chives, or various vegetarian fillings. Nina Simonds,, "Recipe: Celebrate the Lunar New Year with meatballs and bow-ties in this soup instead of dumplings," 9 Feb. 2021 Johnson also makes a mean vegetarian taco ($5), with sauteed potato, peppers and onions mixed in to add some heft. Soleil Ho, San Francisco Chronicle, "A good breakfast taco is a rare bird in San Francisco, but this pop-up nails them," 8 Feb. 2021 For those not into critters, the zoo offers a $5 herbivore option that consists of romaine lettuce, cabbage and other leafy greens that can be fed to vegetarian animals. Alaa Elassar, CNN, "Name a cockroach after your ex and watch it get eaten for Valentine's Day," 31 Jan. 2021 Many happen to be vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free, or can be easily adapted to be so. Audrey Bruno, SELF, "40 Healthy Salad Recipes You'll Actually Crave," 1 Jan. 2021 This year, the options are abundant and there are several gluten-free and vegetarian options. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "Dozens of restaurants are offering Thanksgiving meals to-go," 21 Nov. 2020 The most effective option to reduce the emissions of your dinner itself is to make vegetarian or vegan dishes. Amanda Shendruk, Quartz, "The carbon footprint of a traditional Thanksgiving meal," 21 Nov. 2020 That includes an all-vegetarian version — a steal at five dishes for just $35 per person. Janelle Bitker,, "11 vegetable-centric takeout options from Bay Area restaurants for New Year’s health kicks," 12 Jan. 2021 Vail-Grube said Lasagna Mamas and Papas can prepare dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free meals. Brandi Addison, Dallas News, "‘Lasagna Mamas and Papas’ are feeding hungry families across Dallas-Fort Worth," 29 Dec. 2020

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


1841, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for vegetarian


veget(able) entry 1 + -arian

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Learn More about vegetarian

Time Traveler for vegetarian

Time Traveler

The first known use of vegetarian was in 1841

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Statistics for vegetarian

Last Updated

15 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Vegetarian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2021.

Style: MLA
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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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