[vej-tuh-buh l, vej-i-tuh-]



Origin of vegetable

1350–1400; Middle English (adj.) < Late Latin vegetābilis able to live and grow, equivalent to vegetā(re) to quicken (see vegetate) + -bilis -ble
Related formsnon·veg·e·ta·ble, noun, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for vegetable

produce, salad, herb, legume, edible, yellow, truck, green, root

Examples from the Web for vegetable

Contemporary Examples of vegetable

Historical Examples of vegetable

  • A fruit and vegetable diet seems sufficient in this climate.

    In the Heart of Vosges

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • The tale of the resources of California—vegetable and mineral—is a fairy-tale.

    American Notes

    Rudyard Kipling

  • And this is no doubt as true of animal as of vegetable life.

  • What is the sun's effect on ice and snow, on vegetable and animal life?

    Classic Myths

    Mary Catherine Judd

  • The flower beds were arranged here and there in the vegetable garden.

British Dictionary definitions for vegetable



any of various herbaceous plants having parts that are used as food, such as peas, beans, cabbage, potatoes, cauliflower, and onions
informal a person who has lost control of his mental faculties, limbs, etc, as from an injury, mental disease, etc
  1. a dull inactive person
  2. (as modifier)a vegetable life
(modifier) consisting of or made from edible vegetablesa vegetable diet
(modifier) of, relating to, characteristic of, derived from, or consisting of plants or plant materialvegetable oils
rare any member of the plant kingdom

Word Origin for vegetable

c14 (adj): from Late Latin vegetābilis animating, from vegetāre to enliven, from Latin vegēre to excite
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

Word Origin and History for vegetable

c.1400, "living and growing as a plant," from Old French vegetable "living, fit to live," from Medieval Latin vegetabilis "growing, flourishing," from Late Latin vegetabilis "animating, enlivening," from Latin vegetare "to enliven," from vegetus "vigorous, active," from vegere "to be alive, active, to quicken," from PIE *weg- "be strong, lively," related to watch (v.), vigor, velocity, and possibly witch (see vigil). The meaning "resembling that of a vegetable, dull, uneventful" is attested from 1854 (see vegetable (n.)).


mid-15c., originally any plant, from vegetable (adj.); specific sense of "plant cultivated for food, edible herb or root" is first recorded 1767. Meaning "person who leads a monotonous life" is recorded from 1921.

Slang shortening veggie first recorded 1955. The Old English word was wyrt (see wort). The commonest source of words for vegetables in Indo-European languages are derivatives of words for "green" or "growing" (cf. Italian, Spanish verdura, Irish glasraidh, Danish grøntsager). For a different association, cf. Greek lakhana, related to lakhaino "to dig."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

vegetable in Medicine


[vĕjtə-bəl, vĕjĭ-tə-]


A plant cultivated for an edible part, such as the root of the beet, the leaf of spinach, or the flower buds of broccoli or cauliflower.
The edible part of such a plant.


Of, relating to, or derived from plants or a plant.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

vegetable in Science



A plant that is cultivated for an edible part, such as the leaf of spinach, the root of the carrot, or the stem of celery.
An edible part of one of these plants. See Note at fruit.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.