[ vuh-nil-uh or, often, -nel-uh ]
/ vəˈnɪl ə or, often, -ˈnɛl ə /


any tropical, climbing orchid of the genus Vanilla, especially V. planifolia, bearing podlike fruit yielding an extract used in flavoring food, in perfumery, etc.
Also called vanilla bean. the fruit or bean of this orchid.
the extract of this fruit.


containing or flavored with vanilla: vanilla custard.
Informal. plain-vanilla.

Origin of vanilla

1655–65; < New Latin < Spanish vainilla little pod, equivalent to vain(a) a sheath (< Latin vāgīna sheath) + -illa diminutive suffix (< LL) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for vanilla

British Dictionary definitions for vanilla

/ (vəˈnɪlə) /


any tropical climbing orchid of the genus Vanilla, esp V. plonifolia, having spikes of large fragrant greenish-yellow flowers and long fleshy pods containing the seeds (beans)
the pod or bean of certain of these plants, used to flavour food, etc
a flavouring extract prepared from vanilla beans and used in cooking


flavoured with or as if with vanillavanilla ice cream
slang ordinary or conventionala vanilla kind of guy

Word Origin for vanilla

C17: from New Latin, from Spanish vainilla pod, from vaina a sheath, from Latin vāgīna sheath
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

Medical definitions for vanilla

[ və-nĭlə ]


Any of various tropical American vines of the genus Vanilla, especially V. planifolia, cultivated for its long narrow seedpods from which a flavoring agent is obtained.
The seedpod of this plant.vanilla bean
A flavoring extract prepared from the cured seedpods of this plant or produced synthetically.


Flavored with vanilla.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.