Definition of vegetable in English:



  • 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’
    • ‘He sells his fruit and vegetables locally for prices little higher than those for non-organic produce.’
    • ‘There is no limit to what you can grow, from sweet peas to all types of vegetables and soft fruit.’
    • ‘I lived on vegetable stew, which became by Monday spicy vegetable stew and by Wednesday vegetable curry.’
    • ‘The potato is the vegetable of choice in the United States.’
    • ‘She eats a lot of fruits and vegetables, but also red meat, poultry and fish from time to time.’
    • ‘Most of the vegetables and fruit are grown organically on the estate and they also produce their own honey.’
    • ‘The children received cooking classes from local chefs who introduced them to cooking healthy foods such as vegetable soup and home made pizzas.’
    • ‘Scottish diets are high in fat and there is a marked deficiency of fruit and vegetables.’
    • ‘Fruit and vegetables also contain non-essential nutrients called phytochemicals, which have some potent properties.’
    • ‘Janet stood in her kitchen chopping vegetables for salad.’
    • ‘Vegetables like broccoli will soak up flavour best.’
    • ‘The obvious choices are healthy vegetables like carrots, celery, and cherry tomatoes.’
    • ‘My parents still make a living selling vegetables at farmers markets.’
    • ‘Garlic, oats, fresh fruit and fresh vegetables all help lower bad cholesterol - as does red wine.’
    • ‘Stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables to replenish the nutrients your body craves.’
    • ‘The buffet-style meals include homemade tortillas, scrambled eggs, and vegetable soup with rice.’
    • ‘A glass of fresh vegetable juice is a healthy snack that will provide your body with important nutrients.’
    • ‘Just about any book or article on nutrition recommends that we eat leafy green vegetables.’
    • ‘Why not consider taking on an allotment and growing your own fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs.’
    • ‘Both dishes came with a mountain of fresh vegetables - spinach, carrots and green beans.’
    • ‘If you don't like spinach, try other green vegetables such as beans or bok choy.’
    herb, flower, vegetable, shrub, weed
    View synonyms
  • 2informal A person with a dull or inactive life.

    ‘I thought I'd sort of flop back and be a vegetable for a bit’
    1. 2.1offensive A person who is incapable of normal mental or physical activity, especially through brain damage.


  • [attributive] Relating to plants or plant life, especially as distinct from animal life or mineral substances.

    ‘vegetable matter’
    • ‘You can do some basic modifications to some diesel engines, which will basically let you use vegetable and animal oils to run your car.’
    • ‘Black Rot is a devastating fungal disease which infects many vegetable species, especially crucifers.’
    • ‘They probably eat more vegetable than animal matter over the course of a year.’
    • ‘Its diet consists chiefly of vegetable matter, but it also eats small animals.’
    • ‘They feed insects and spiders to their young, but adults eat more than 90% vegetable matter throughout the year.’
    • ‘The vast majority of the House Finch's diet is vegetable matter - seeds, buds, berries, and nectar.’
    • ‘Connoisseurs consider continental chocolate, made from just cocoa beans and cocoa butter, superior to British chocolate, which has vegetable fat added.’
    • ‘Rock Sandpipers are unusual among shorebirds in that they commonly eat vegetable matter, including seeds, berries, moss, and algae.’
    • ‘Terrestrial orchids grow in the humus - the rich, loose top layer of soil that is made up of decaying leaves and vegetable matter.’
    • ‘They typically eat insects and floating vegetable matter but their diet also includes zooplankton, aquatic insect larvae, and worms.’
    • ‘In the vegetable kingdom, as winter approaches, the life force transfers to the roots.’
    • ‘Seeds and insects are part of their diet year round, but the ratio of animal and vegetable matter fluctuates throughout the year.’
    • ‘The European Union has instituted some tough new measures requiring that all cut flowers be whole, fresh and free of animal or vegetable parasites.’
    • ‘The officers found a ‘greenish slab of vegetable substance believed to be cannabis’ when they searched his bag.’
    • ‘However, the commercial fish food is designed to offer a nutrient-rich and balanced diet, and it contains both animal and vegetable matter.’
    • ‘Originally, perfumes came from animal and vegetable sources.’
    • ‘Natural fibers may be of animal, vegetable, or mineral origin.’
    • ‘Fats and oils are obtained from vegetable and animal sources.’
    • ‘It is one of the most commonly found saturated fatty acids and it occurs as glycerides in the majority of animal and vegetable fats.’
    • ‘Most fungi of the Phylum Chytridiomycota break down vegetable matter in aquatic systems, but some are parasitic on diatoms or insects.’


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.