• synonyms


  1. any of several mostly climbing plants belonging to the genus Vicia, of the legume family, having pinnate leaves ending in tendrils and bearing pealike flowers, especially V. sativa (spring vetch), cultivated for forage and soil improvement.
  2. any of various allied plants, as Lathyrus sativus, of Europe, cultivated for their edible seeds and for forage.
  3. the beanlike seed or fruit of any such plant.
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Origin of vetch

1325–75; Middle English ve(c)che < Anglo-French; Old French vecce (French vesce) < Latin vicia
Related formsvetch·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for vetch

Historical Examples of vetch

  • Summer vetch, although an equally good grower, is killed by freezing.

    Apple Growing

    M. C. Burritt

  • The hairy or winter vetch lives through the hard freezing winters.

    Apple Growing

    M. C. Burritt

  • Upon his return to Novgorod he had a dispute with the vetch, and he left the city.

    The Story of Russia

    R. Van Bergen, M.A.

  • Mr. Vetch declared his ignorance of this, and so they parted.

  • Every spot was covered with flowers, mostly of the vetch family.

British Dictionary definitions for vetch


  1. any of various climbing leguminous plants of the temperate genus Vicia, esp V. sativa, having pinnate leaves, typically blue or purple flowers, and tendrils on the stems
  2. any of various similar and related plants, such as Lathyrus sativus, cultivated in parts of Europe, and the kidney vetch
  3. the beanlike fruit of any of these plants
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Word Origin for vetch

C14: fecche, from Old French veche, from Latin vicia
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 vetch


late 14c., from Old North French veche, variant of Old French vece, from Latin vicia, which perhaps is related to vincire "to bind" (cf. second element of periwinkle (n.1)). Dutch wikke, German Wicke are loan-words from Latin vicia.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper