Definition of vegetable in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈvejtəb(ə)l/
Pronunciation: /ˈvəjədəb(ə)l/


1A plant or part of a plant used as food, typically as accompaniment to meat or fish, such as a cabbage, potato, carrot, or bean: fresh fruit and vegetables [as modifier]: a vegetable garden vegetable soup
More example sentences
  • Both dishes came with a mountain of fresh vegetables - spinach, carrots and green beans.
  • Why not consider taking on an allotment and growing your own fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs.
  • Scottish diets are high in fat and there is a marked deficiency of fruit and vegetables.
2 informal A person with a dull or inactive life: I thought I’d sort of flop back and be a vegetable for a bit
2.1 offensive A person who is incapable of normal mental or physical activity, especially through brain damage.


Relating to plants or plant life, especially as distinct from animal life or mineral substances: vegetable matter
More example sentences
  • However, the commercial fish food is designed to offer a nutrient-rich and balanced diet, and it contains both animal and vegetable matter.
  • Natural fibers may be of animal, vegetable, or mineral origin.
  • Seeds and insects are part of their diet year round, but the ratio of animal and vegetable matter fluctuates throughout the year.


Late Middle English (in the sense 'growing as a plant'): from Old French, or from late Latin vegetabilis 'animating', from Latin vegetare (see vegetate). The noun dates from the late 16th century.

  • The early use was adjectival in the sense ‘growing as a plant’, from late Latin vegetabilis ‘animating’. The noun dates from the late 16th century. Related words include vegetative (Late Middle English); vegetation (mid 16th century); and vegetate (early 17th century). The slang use veg out meaning ‘pass the time in mindless activity’ arose in the 1980s. Vegetarian is an irregular formation of the mid 19th century; the abbreviation veggie dates from the 1970s.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: veg·e·ta·ble

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