Meaning of annatto in English:


Pronunciation /əˈnatəʊ/

nounplural noun annattos

(also anatto)
  • 1mass noun An orange-red dye obtained from the seed coat of a tropical fruit, used for colouring foods.

    ‘Another color the cheese maker could add is the dye annatto (from a tropical plant), which also lends a different shade of yellow.’
    • ‘Also seek out natural sugar substitutes like stevia and natural food colors like annatto, carmine, carotene, and turmeric.’
    • ‘To enhance flavor or impart a desired color, cloves, ginger, fructose, aspartame, saccharin, FD & C Red no.40, monosodium glutamate, caramel, annatto, limonene, and turmeric can be added.’
    • ‘In different times and places, the distinctive yellow-orange color of the classic patty crust has come from palm oil, annatto seeds, yellow food coloring and turmeric.’
    • ‘Add the peppers, onion, garlic, and annatto seeds and saute until the onion turns translucent.’
    • ‘Set two whitefish fillets and a crawfish on top, drizzle with annatto oil and garnish with salmon roe and whitefish roe.’
    • ‘For the annatto oil, in a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the shallots, garlic, and annatto paste and saute until translucent.’
    • ‘Old World spices like cumin and capers are highly esteemed and supermarkets sell aliño preparado, a ready-ground mixture of cumin, oregano, annatto, pepper, and paprika.’
  • 2The tropical American tree that yields the fruit from which annatto is obtained.

    Bixa orellana, family Bixaceae

    ‘About 90 percent of the plants can be used as dyes - lychee leaves and branches produce shades of brown, azaleas a yellow to reddish brown and annattos a golden orange.’
    • ‘Bixa orellana (Annatto) is a native of Central and tropical South America. The tree has been widely introduced throughout the tropics as an ornamental or for its dyestuffs, and has become naturalised in many countries, including Jamaica.’
    • ‘The Annatto tree or shrub can vary between 6 to 18 feet tall, with a dense rounded shape and short trunk.’
    • ‘The annatto tree grows 20 or 30 feet in height, and when its seeds are stirred in water, they produce orange annatto dye, also called achiote, used to color foods such as cheese, butter and mustard.’
    • ‘The annatto tree is quite pretty, with big green leaves and bright red, prickly seedpods.’
    • ‘One small annatto tree can produce up to 270 kg of seeds, which is the source of orange–yellow edible colour.’


Early 17th century from Carib.