Definition of vanilla in US English:

vanilla

noun

  • 1A substance obtained from vanilla beans or produced artificially and used to flavor sweet foods or to impart a fragrant scent to cosmetic preparations.

    as modifier ‘vanilla ice cream’
    • ‘The crème brûlée French toast with vanilla custard on the side was quite nice if entirely excessive.’
    • ‘Her favorite ones are chocolate or vanilla flavored cookies.’
    • ‘Scatter over the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla and fold it gently in with a large metal spoon.’
    • ‘In a small bowl whisk together the egg yolks, cream or milk, vanilla and rosewater.’
    • ‘The demand for good quality natural vanilla will always be there.’
    • ‘Just before serving, gently whip the double cream, icing sugar and vanilla until it just starts to thicken.’
    • ‘Cream butter and vanilla essence in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.’
    • ‘In a saucepan, bring the port, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon to a boil.’
    • ‘Next time, I'm just making a simple sugar syrup with vanilla, and drizzling that over it.’
    • ‘Combine the sour cream, brown sugar and vanilla until smooth.’
    • ‘I found I had no vanilla essence so I used chocolate essence instead.’
    • ‘Mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.’
    • ‘Add the vanilla, vegetable oil, vinegar and water and stir until combined.’
    • ‘Put the egg yolk and sugar in a bowl and mix it well, then stir in the mascarpone and vanilla.’
    • ‘Served with fresh vanilla custard it was delicious.’
    • ‘Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and 2 beaten eggs; blend well.’
    • ‘Stir in 1/4 teaspoon vanilla and a pinch of salt.’
    • ‘Panacotta is flavoured with vanilla, mixed with berries, and sprinkled with a little balsamic vinegar.’
    • ‘Most vanilla extracts are in an base of about 35 % alcohol.’
    • ‘Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, and using a rubber spatula, fold in the semolina, baking powder, salt, and vanilla.’
    1. 1.1 Ice cream flavored with vanilla.
      ‘four scoops of vanilla with hot fudge sauce’
      • ‘A good, plain, not too sweet scoop of vanilla would have made a far better companion.’
      • ‘The line initially launched with four packaged flavors - vanilla, chocolate, butter pecan and Neapolitan.’
      • ‘Of course, vanilla will always reign supreme when it comes to ice cream.’
      • ‘I extracted slow licks from a single scoop of vanilla.’
      • ‘She prefers chocolate ice-cream, and I prefer vanilla.’
      • ‘There is this Sundae Cup which is creamy vanilla topped with strawberry or chocolate sauce.’
      • ‘Even though there has been a jump of sorts as far as the diversity of flavours is concerned, most ice-cream sellers still swear by that humble cupful of vanilla.’
      • ‘In my book, chocolate ice-cream beats strawberry or vanilla, any day.’
      • ‘In summer I like to make ice cream, usually vanilla or chocolate cinnamon - you can win friends and influence people with homemade ice cream.’
      • ‘It was only when we got our bill we realised we'd been charged another £2.50 for two small scoops of vanilla.’
      • ‘Remember when choosing an ice cream boiled down to vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, or orange sherbet?’
      • ‘Even though vanilla remains an age-old ice cream favorite, numerous other flavors have arrived on the scene.’
      • ‘The choices are pretty straight forward: chocolate or vanilla, big or small.’
      • ‘My goal was for them to finish off the chocolate and vanilla, so we could get more ice cream.’
      • ‘I like vanilla, but I'm not scared of the hot fudge or hot caramel on a hot day.’
    2. 1.2as modifier Of the yellowish-white color of vanilla ice cream.
      ‘a vanilla dress’
      • ‘The bride wore a vanilla satin strapless boned top and midnight blue velvet fishtail skirt, with a vanilla and blue wrap.’
      • ‘Her eyes still the deep brown they always had been, her skin vanilla white.’
      • ‘The walls were a sort of stale French vanilla color, a few cracks running down the center of some parts.’
      • ‘Her chin length French vanilla hued bob is heavily layered ending in razored edges that are slightly choppy and flippy.’
  • 2A tropical climbing orchid that has fragrant flowers and long podlike fruit.

    Genus Vanilla, family Orchidaceae: many species, in particular V. planifolia, the chief commercial source of vanilla beans

    • ‘There are many species of vanilla thriving around the world.’
    • ‘Of all the orchids, the vanilla family is the only one that produces an agriculturally valuable crop.’
    • ‘But soon after, the price began to fall drastically and I took to cultivating 3,000 vanilla plants as intercrop.’
    • ‘The most suitable land for vanilla is gently sloping with light friable soil.’
    1. 2.1 The fruit of the vanilla plant which is cured and then either used in cooking or processed to extract an essence which is used for flavor and fragrance.
      • ‘Put the rice in a medium-sized, heavy-based pan, then pour in the milk, cream, vanilla pod or extract and water.’
      • ‘Madagascar, Mexico, Réunion and Tahiti produce the plumpest and most flavoursome vanilla pods.’
      • ‘Add a vanilla pod, a sprig of sweet cicely, lavender or elderflower cordial to rhubarb compote.’
      • ‘Split open the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds into a pan.’
      • ‘Instead of passionfruit flavouring, you could infuse the cream with either a fresh vanilla pod or some star anise pods.’
      • ‘Add the caster sugar, water, white wine, vanilla pods and seeds.’
      • ‘You can stick a vanilla pod into a jar of sugar to flavour it, or for a more rounded taste, you can whizz the sugar with the whole pod or just the seeds in an electric mixer.’
      • ‘Return the pineapple to the pan with the vanilla pod and bring to a boil.’
      • ‘Cut the vanilla pod into two equal pieces.’
      • ‘To make the custard, pour the milk into a saucepan, split the vanilla pod lengthways and drop it into the milk, then bring slowly towards the boil.’
      • ‘When it has cooled, remove the vanilla pod and place the mixture in the fridge.’
      • ‘Heat milk, cream, lemon zest and vanilla pods in a stainless steel pan and bring to the boil.’
      • ‘Reheat the cream and milk, then lift the vanilla pod out of the pan and set aside for making the crème anglaise.’
      • ‘The store even stocks authentic Tahitian vanilla pods, saffron and sake.’
      • ‘Open the vanilla pods lengthways and, using the point of a knife, scrape out all the seeds.’
      • ‘Make the vanilla sugar by whizzing a few tablespoons of sugar with the seeds of a vanilla pod in an electric mixer and sprinkle it generously over the chilled strawberries before eating.’
      • ‘Add the seeds of the vanilla pod and a pinch of salt.’
      • ‘Bring the caster sugar and 500 ml of water to the boil in a medium saucepan, then add the lemon juice, stem ginger, star anise and the vanilla pod.’
      • ‘Halve the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds into a small non-stick saucepan.’
      • ‘The cream mixture can also be flavored, often with a vanilla pod, sometimes with fruit or fruit juice, but you could also experiment with tea, cocoa powder, and different spices or extracts - not very traditional but also very good.’

adjective

informal
  • Having no special or extra features; ordinary or standard.

    ‘choosing plain vanilla technology wherever you can will save you money’
    ‘the original, vanilla MP3 format is still the most commonly encountered form of the technology’
    ‘they seem to be quite content in their plain vanilla domestic life’
    • ‘But owners of this and other plain, vanilla devices are locked in the past to be sure.’
    • ‘Choosing plain vanilla technology wherever you can will save you more money than you ever thought it would and - here's the surprising part - not compromise your company's performance.’
    • ‘I have been finding the BBC a bit vanilla of late and will check out Channel 4 news instead.’
    • ‘In fact, given their higher charges, you'd expect multi-manager funds to do slightly worse than the average plain vanilla fund.’
    • ‘I have a 30-year fixed rate, plain vanilla mortgage.’
    • ‘While it is a vanilla DVD release, the film is powerful enough to stand on its own.’
    • ‘It's hard to make a solid argument for why it will, so why not plump for something like a plain vanilla index tracker instead?’
    • ‘My most recent relationship just ended after five years and was all vanilla sex.’
    • ‘They totally ignored what I written and sent out a standard, vanilla email.’
    • ‘Drop the unoriginal, vanilla stories and go for the ones that leave a strong, vivid impression.’
    • ‘You can get standard vanilla insurance, which covers you for basically wandering around, taking photos of things, or playing golf.’
    • ‘By the end of this year, the plain, vanilla PDA market will have shrunk by nearly ten per cent.’
    • ‘The reasons for this coverage are plain, even a bit vanilla.’
    • ‘You want her to know that she can get diseases from a variety of endeavours, not just plain vanilla sex.’
    • ‘We chose it because it seemed, after all the baroque alternatives, the most generic, plain vanilla name we could think of.’
    • ‘Also, gimmicks such as repayment holidays and other ‘free’ add-ons will increase your interest bill, so ignore these bells and whistles - opt for a plain vanilla loan, instead!’
    • ‘Why not just give us plain old vanilla MP3 and be done with it?’
    • ‘It's a choice between value-added services or plain vanilla.’
    • ‘There is so much imagery built up around vanilla sex that it defines what many people are aiming for.’
    • ‘The satire seems a bit vanilla but it's a family film so I'm not expecting balls-out absurdism.’
    tedious, dull, monotonous
    View synonyms

Origin

Mid 17th century: from Spanish vainilla ‘pod’, diminutive of vaina ‘sheath, pod’, from Latin vagina ‘sheath’. The spelling change was due to association with French vanille.

Pronunciation

vanilla

/vəˈnilə//vəˈnɪlə/