- any of a genus (Vanilla) of climbing tropical American orchids with fragrant, greenish-yellow flowers
- the podlike, immature capsule (vanilla bean) of some of these plants
- an extract of these capsules, used as a flavoring in cooking, confections, etc.
- the flavor of vanilla
Origin of vanillaModern Latin from Spanish vainilla, small pod, husk, diminutive of vaina, pod from Classical Latin vagina, a case, pod, sheath
- of or flavored with vanilla: vanilla ice cream
Origin of vanillain allusion to the commonness of vanilla ice creamInformal bland, plain, or basic: used esp. in the phrase plain vanilla
- Any of various tropical American vines of the genus Vanilla in the orchid family, especially V. planifolia, widely cultivated for its long narrow seedpods, which yield an aromatic substance used especially as a flavoring.
- The seedpod of this plant. Also called vanilla bean .
- A flavoring extract prepared from the cured seedpods of this plant or produced synthetically.
- a. Flavored with vanilla: vanilla pudding.b. Scented with or smelling like vanilla: vanilla perfume.
- Lacking adornments or special features; basic or ordinary: “a delicious twist to a vanilla plot” ( Ian O'Connor )
- White or off-white in color: a vanilla suit.
- Slang Relating to or engaging in sexual activity that is regarded as conventional or unadventurous; not kinky, sadomasochistic, or fetishistic.
Origin of vanillaObsolete Spanish vainilla diminutive of vaina sheath (from the shape of its seedpods) from Latin vāgīna
(countable and uncountable, plural vanillas)
- (countable) Any tropical, climbing orchid of the genus Vanilla (especially Vanilla planifolia), bearing podlike fruit yielding an extract used in flavoring food or in perfumes.
- (countable) The fruit or bean of the vanilla plant.
- (uncountable) The extract of the fruit of the vanilla plant.
- (uncountable) The distinctive fragrant flavour/flavor characteristic of vanilla extract.
- (uncountable) Any artificially produced homologue of vanilla extract, principally vanillin produced from lignin from the paper industry or from petrochemicals.
- (colloquial) By association with vanilla as the "plain" flavour of ice cream: the standard, plain, default, unmodified, basic.
- vanilla suit.