from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun One who practices vegetarianism.
  • adjective Of or relating to vegetarianism or vegetarians.
  • adjective Consisting primarily or wholly of vegetables or plants.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Of, pertaining to, or characteristic of those who on principle abstain from animal food.
  • Consisting entirely of vegetables.
  • noun One who maintains that vegetables and farinaceous substances constitute the only proper food for man.
  • noun One who abstains from animal food, and lives exclusively on vegetables, together with, usually, eggs, milk, etc. Strict vegetarians eat vegetable and farinaceous food only, and will not eat butter, eggs, or even milk.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun One who holds that vegetables and fruits are the only proper food for man. Strict vegetarians eat no meat, eggs, or milk, and are sometimes referred tro as vegans.
  • adjective Of or pertaining to vegetarianism.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A person who does not eat animal flesh, or, in some cases, animal products.
  • noun An animal that eats only plants; a herbivore.
  • adjective Of or relating to the type of diet eaten by vegetarians (in all senses).
  • adjective Of a product normally made with meat, having non-meat substitutes in place of meat.
  • adjective of a person That does not eat meat.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun eater of fruits and grains and nuts; someone who eats no meat or fish or (often) any animal products


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[veget(able) + –arian.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

vegetable +‎ -arian; popularized following 1847 foundation of British Vegetarian Society. (Alternatively, it may derive from vegetus +‎ -arian.)



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  • Firstly, “vegetarians” who eat fish are pescetarians.

    The Britsh Food Standards Agency attempt to clarify the terms vegetarian and vegan:

    The term ‘vegetarian’ should not be applied to foods that are, or are made from or with the aid of products derived from animals that have died, have been slaughtered, or animals that die as a result of being eaten. Animals means farmed, wild or domestic animals, including for example, livestock poultry, game, fish, shellfish, crustacea, amphibians, tunicates, echinoderms, molluscs and insects.

    The term ‘vegan’ should not be applied to foods that are, or are made from or with the aid of animals or animal products (including products from living animals).

    Eggs, dairy products and honey are thus vegetarian, but not vegan. Gelatine and ordinary rennet, being by-products of animal slaughter, are neither.

    Veg*n (where * stands for both -etaria- and -a-) has spread as an easier way of notating vegetarian/vegan.

    April 19, 2008

  • Vegetarians don't eat fish; vegetarians eat vegetables. Neither fish, eggs, dairy, poultry nor molluscs are made from vegetables.

    April 19, 2008

  • I think you're being unnecessarily pedantic, bilby.

    April 19, 2008

  • 1. a. One who lives wholly or principally upon vegetable foods, says the OED. (emphasis mine)

    Vegetarianism in practice uses a definition of exclusion (no animals) not inclusion (only vegetable products). Eggs qua eggs aren't animals. Honey isn't an animal. Fish are animals. Poultry are. Argue with the Vegetarian Society if you like.

    April 19, 2008

  • I'm a bit tired of people who aren't vegetarians telling us what we are.

    April 19, 2008

  • So why not put the emphasis on wholesome wholly rather than prissy principally? Who says eggs aren't animals? Go argue with the mother hen from whom you have stolen offspring, not me. I'm not a co-opted member of Veg-Soc; I don't rely on self-appointed arbiters to tell me what's what.

    April 19, 2008

  • Ah, and the Vegetarian Society aren't vegetarians? You may have missed my edit.

    April 19, 2008

  • I'm a vegetarian; I eat vegetables (or as WeirdNET kindly explains, fruit, grains and nuts). Anybody got a problem with that?

    April 19, 2008

  • Interestingly, it's their term you're using. Origin 1847, Vegetarian Society, Ramsgate. The OED definition continues thus: a person who on principle abstains from any form of animal food, or at least such as is obtained by the direct destruction of life.

    I don't know about the origin of vegan, on the other hand.

    You can use whatever term you want, but it won't give you a right to be pissed off when someone offers you strictly labelled (see first post, or here; you do live in the UK, or do I remember wrongly?) vegetarian cheese made with vegetarian rennet. Unless you've already told them you hate cheese, of course.

    April 19, 2008

  • I don't have a problem with that at all, bilby. You may decide that being a vegetarian means no animal products at all, and that's all good. But people who do not eat meat but still indulge in dairy should still be allowed to call themselves vegetarian.

    April 19, 2008