1 : flavored with the extract of the vanilla bean
2 : lacking distinction : plain, ordinary, conventional
Did You Know?
For lexicographers, "vanilla" has more flavor than "chocolate," because it adds a tasty synonym for "plain" to the English menu. The noun "vanilla" was first served up in 1662, but it took almost 200 years for its adjective use to become established for things, like ice and sugar, flavored with vanilla. By the 1970s vanilla was perceived as being the plain flavor of the ice-cream world, and people began using the word itself to describe anything plain, ordinary, or conventional.
Feeling a need to add some pizzazz to the vanilla décor in her office, Maria splurged on some colorful new lithographs.
“I’m not going to sanitize what I do … I still want to be me, and be me, and be sassy, without being vanilla -- and also without being malicious and hurtful and nasty.” -- Perez Hilton, quoted by the New York Times’ Media Decoder blog, October 13, 2010
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
What synonym of "vanilla" (in its "lacking distinction" sense) can also refer to a light grayish-yellowish brown color? The answer is ...
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