• synonyms


[uh-nat-oh, uh-nah-toh]
noun, plural an·nat·tos.
  1. Also called lipstick tree. a small tree, Bixa orellana, of tropical America.
  2. Also arnatto. a yellowish-red dye obtained from the pulp enclosing the seeds of this tree, used for coloring fabrics, butter, varnish, etc.
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Also anatto.

Origin of annatto

Borrowed into English from Carib around 1675–85
Also called achiote.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for annatto

Historical Examples

  • Annatto is sometimes added to milk to increase its richness of color.

    The Mother and Her Child

    William S. Sadler

  • If annatto is present, there will be a reddish-yellow stain on the paper.

  • The colour given by annatto approaches very nearly the natural colouring matter of milk fat.

  • Yellow: Yellow straw is produced in the same manner, using turmeric and annatto only.

    Philippine Mats

    Hugo H. Miller

  • This may be colored with anything desired, like burnt sienna, annatto, or other coloring material.

British Dictionary definitions for annatto



noun plural -tos
  1. a small tropical American tree, Bixa orellana, having red or pinkish flowers and pulpy seeds that yield a dye: family Bixaceae
  2. the yellowish-red dye obtained from the pulpy outer layer of the coat of the seeds of this tree, used for colouring fabrics, butter, varnish, etc
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Word Origin

from Carib
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012