Definition of vanilla in English:

vanilla

(also plain vanilla)

noun

  • 1mass noun A substance obtained from vanilla pods or produced artificially and used to flavour foods or to impart a fragrant scent to cosmetic preparations.

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

    • ‘Of all the orchids, the vanilla family is the only one that produces an agriculturally valuable crop.’
    • ‘The most suitable land for vanilla is gently sloping with light friable soil.’
    • ‘There are many species of vanilla thriving around the world.’
    • ‘But soon after, the price began to fall drastically and I took to cultivating 3,000 vanilla plants as intercrop.’
    1. 2.1The fruit of the vanilla plant which is cured and then either used in cooking or processed to extract an essence which is used for flavour and fragrance.
      • ‘Heat milk, cream, lemon zest and vanilla pods in a stainless steel pan and bring to the boil.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Instead of passionfruit flavouring, you could infuse the cream with either a fresh vanilla pod or some star anise pods.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The store even stocks authentic Tahitian vanilla pods, saffron and sake.’
      • ‘Madagascar, Mexico, Réunion and Tahiti produce the plumpest and most flavoursome vanilla pods.’
      • ‘Open the vanilla pods lengthways and, using the point of a knife, scrape out all the seeds.’
      • ‘Cut the vanilla pod into two equal pieces.’
      • ‘Add the seeds of the vanilla pod and a pinch of salt.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Split open the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds into a pan.’
      • ‘Return the pineapple to the pan with the vanilla pod and bring to a boil.’
      • ‘Add a vanilla pod, a sprig of sweet cicely, lavender or elderflower cordial to rhubarb compote.’
      • ‘Halve the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds into a small non-stick saucepan.’
      • ‘Reheat the cream and milk, then lift the vanilla pod out of the pan and set aside for making the crème anglaise.’
      • ‘When it has cooled, remove the vanilla pod and place the mixture in the fridge.’
      • ‘Put the rice in a medium-sized, heavy-based pan, then pour in the milk, cream, vanilla pod or extract and water.’
      • ‘Add the caster sugar, water, white wine, vanilla pods and 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.’

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’
    ‘his sex life is totally vanilla’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘You want her to know that she can get diseases from a variety of endeavours, not just plain vanilla sex.’
    • ‘It's a choice between value-added services or plain vanilla.’
    • ‘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!’
    • ‘I have a 30-year fixed rate, plain vanilla mortgage.’
    • ‘In fact, given their higher charges, you'd expect multi-manager funds to do slightly worse than the average plain vanilla fund.’
    • ‘We chose it because it seemed, after all the baroque alternatives, the most generic, plain vanilla name we could think of.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘They totally ignored what I written and sent out a standard, vanilla email.’
    • ‘By the end of this year, the plain, vanilla PDA market will have shrunk by nearly ten per cent.’
    • ‘My most recent relationship just ended after five years and was all vanilla sex.’
    • ‘There is so much imagery built up around vanilla sex that it defines what many people are aiming for.’
    • ‘Why not just give us plain old vanilla MP3 and be done with it?’
    • ‘But owners of this and other plain, vanilla devices are locked in the past to be sure.’
    • ‘While it is a vanilla DVD release, the film is powerful enough to stand on its own.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The reasons for this coverage are plain, even a bit vanilla.’
    • ‘I have been finding the BBC a bit vanilla of late and will check out Channel 4 news instead.’
    • ‘The satire seems a bit vanilla but it's a family film so I'm not expecting balls-out absurdism.’
    tedious, dull, monotonous

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

/vəˈnɪlə/