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



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 Vegans and vegetarians are already more likely to identify as liberal. Trey Malone, The Conversation, "Gluten-sensitive liberals? Investigating the stereotype suggests food fads unite us all," 22 Nov. 2019 And after working up an appetite at the club, stop by locally famous 24-hour R Thomas Deluxe Grill for a wide selection of healthy and hearty eats to satisfy vegans, vegetarians and carnivores alike. Katey Ceccarelli, Billboard, "Where to Dance In: Atlanta," 29 Oct. 2019 And vegans and vegetarians have delectable options too, such as the cauliflower banh mi, the freedom hash and the array of salads. Andre Meunier, oregonlive, "3 years in, Wayfinder delivering on lofty expectations: Portland Breweries Series," 31 Oct. 2019 Like any other vegetable, cauliflower, gets a check mark for vegans and vegetarians. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "Cauliflower power: 6 places with hot cauliflower dishes," 2 Oct. 2019 The simple truth is that long-standing vegetarians live seven years longer than meat eaters. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Don’t pick up that steak knife yet; The way forward for the Rockies (10/2/19)," 2 Oct. 2019 However, West Coast cities like Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, as well as New York City, Austin and Orlando, Florida, have plenty to please vegans and vegetarians. Christine Clarridge, The Seattle Times, "Seattle is among the top cities for vegetarians and vegans, and one of our neighbors is No. 1," 1 Oct. 2019 However, there was a 13% lower rate of heart disease among vegetarians (and fish eaters) compared to those who eat meat. Jamie Ducharme, Time, "A New Study Suggests Vegetarians and Vegans Are at Higher Risk of Stroke. But Don't Reach for That Steak Just Yet," 5 Sep. 2019 Given Fairbank’s propensity for local ingredients, vegetarians eat well here, too. Layla Khoury-hanold,, "Fresh Marquette: Outdoor sports haven in Michigan’s U.P. serves up booming culinary scene," 28 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Veggie-stuffed Bell Peppers Serves 4 A vegetarian dish full of healthy fats and leafy greens is a nice break during a meat-heavy month like November. Callie Blount, al, "How to make veggie-stuffed bell peppers," 14 Nov. 2019 Specialty sandwiches, salads, appetizers and vegetarian dishes also will be served. David Lindquist, Indianapolis Star, "On Irvington's big Halloween weekend, Black Acre Brewing details expansion plans," 25 Oct. 2019 She is backed up by Ms Lin, a nearby seller of tofu, a staple of vegetarian Chinese dishes. The Economist, "The planet needs China to curb its appetite for meat," 17 Oct. 2019 This vegetarian dish of stewed potatoes, tomatoes and lots of spices is cooked in a fair amount of butter until extra thick and creamy. Grace Wong,, "Craving: Indian food — from traditional to modern takes, tracking down Chicago’s best," 3 Oct. 2019 Rakor has many vegetarian Greek dishes on the menu. Danai Papageorgiou, National Geographic, "See Athens like a Nat Geo Explorer," 8 Apr. 2019 This smoky, garlicky vegetarian dish will satisfy all your cravings. Woman's Day Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Crispy Chickpea and Kale Bowl," 12 Jan. 2018 On top of that, there may be the concern of finding vegetarian options, your table decor, and of course... the cleanup. Shanon Maglente, Good Housekeeping, "10 Places to Buy Fully Cooked Thanksgiving Dinner, Sides, and Dessert," 30 Oct. 2019 Others seem to lament the loss of the vegetarian option and took to Twitter to comment. Alex Nicoll, Fortune, "Beyond Meat Got Kicked Off the Menu at Some Tim Hortons Locations," 19 Sep. 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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Learn More about vegetarian

Time Traveler for vegetarian

Time Traveler

The first known use of vegetarian was in 1842

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Statistics for vegetarian

Last Updated

8 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Vegetarian.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 11 December 2019.

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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

Comments on vegetarian

What made you want to look up vegetarian? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


heavy with or as if with moisture

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