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[vej-tuh-buh l, vej-i-tuh-] /ˈvɛdʒ tə bəl, ˈvɛdʒ ɪ tə-/
any plant whose fruit, seeds, roots, tubers, bulbs, stems, leaves, or flower parts are used as food, as the tomato, bean, beet, potato, onion, asparagus, spinach, or cauliflower.
the edible part of such a plant, as the tuber of the potato.
any member of the vegetable kingdom; plant.
Informal. a person who is so severely impaired mentally or physically as to be largely incapable of conscious responses or activity.
a dull, spiritless, and uninteresting person.
of, consisting of, or made from edible vegetables:
a vegetable diet.
of, relating to, or characteristic of plants:
the vegetable kingdom.
derived from plants:
vegetable fiber; vegetable oils.
consisting of, comprising, or containing the substance or remains of plants:
vegetable matter; a vegetable organism.
of the nature of or resembling a plant:
the vegetable forms of Art Nouveau ornament.
inactive; inert; dull; uneventful:
a vegetable existence.
1350-1400; Middle English (adj.) < Late Latin vegetābilis able to live and grow, equivalent to vegetā(re) to quicken (see vegetate) + -bilis -ble
Related forms
nonvegetable, noun, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for vegetables
  • What people are paying for vegetables grown outside their district is a quick indicator of road security.
  • Eat good wholesome meals with fibre and get plenty of fresh vegetables.
  • But when people have enough calories they need to diversify towards vegetables, pulses and meat.
  • Their proposals amount to the ultimate free lunch-one full of fish and vegetables and no doubt served on a leafy mountainside.
  • Now, people buy vegetables, and so this shouldn't be dismissed as meaningless.
  • They are found in many fruits and vegetables, and even in red wine.
  • And consumers are paying for such green goodies as organic vegetables or loft-cladding.
  • Other kinds of vegetables that one might expect blend with each other around the dinner table.
  • Backyard vegetables can fight crime, improve health, and boost the economy.
  • The influx of fresh vegetables would help combat obesity.
British Dictionary definitions for vegetables


any of various herbaceous plants having parts that are used as food, such as peas, beans, cabbage, potatoes, cauliflower, and onions
(informal) a person who has lost control of his mental faculties, limbs, etc, as from an injury, mental disease, etc
  1. a dull inactive person
  2. (as modifier): a vegetable life
(modifier) consisting of or made from edible vegetables: a vegetable diet
(modifier) of, relating to, characteristic of, derived from, or consisting of plants or plant material: vegetable oils
(rare) any member of the plant kingdom
Word Origin
c14 (adj): from Late Latin vegetābilis animating, from vegetāre to enliven, from Latin vegēre to excite
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for vegetables



c.1400, "living and growing as a plant," from Old French vegetable "living, fit to live," from Medieval Latin vegetabilis "growing, flourishing," from Late Latin vegetabilis "animating, enlivening," from Latin vegetare "to enliven," from vegetus "vigorous, active," from vegere "to be alive, active, to quicken," from PIE *weg- "be strong, lively," related to watch (v.), vigor, velocity, and possibly witch (see vigil). The meaning "resembling that of a vegetable, dull, uneventful" is attested from 1854 (see vegetable (n.)).


mid-15c., originally any plant, from vegetable (adj.); specific sense of "plant cultivated for food, edible herb or root" is first recorded 1767. Meaning "person who leads a monotonous life" is recorded from 1921.

Slang shortening veggie first recorded 1955. The Old English word was wyrt (see wort). The commonest source of words for vegetables in Indo-European languages are derivatives of words for "green" or "growing" (cf. Italian, Spanish verdura, Irish glasraidh, Danish grøntsager). For a different association, cf. Greek lakhana, related to lakhaino "to dig."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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vegetables in Medicine

vegetable veg·e·ta·ble (věj'tə-bəl, věj'ĭ-tə-)

  1. A plant cultivated for an edible part, such as the root of the beet, the leaf of spinach, or the flower buds of broccoli or cauliflower.

  2. The edible part of such a plant.

Of, relating to, or derived from plants or a plant.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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vegetables in Science
  1. A plant that is cultivated for an edible part, such as the leaf of spinach, the root of the carrot, or the stem of celery.

  2. An edible part of one of these plants. See Note at fruit.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for vegetables

veg 1

  1. A vegetable (1918+)
  2. A person lacking normal senses, responses, intelligence, etc. (1970s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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