Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for April 17, 2020 is:

vanilla • vuh-NILL-uh  • adjective

1 : flavored with the extract of the vanilla bean

2 : lacking distinction : plain, ordinary, conventional


“Training for sales, marketing and installation staff takes place in a series of small conference rooms on one side of the floor.… They’re rather vanilla, but the company plans to enliven them by hiring graffiti artists to paint colorful murals on the parapet wall outside the windows.” — Sandy Smith, Philadelphia Magazine, 14 Feb. 2019

“Joanna is frustrated that she’s forbidden from sending more personal replies and breaks the rules at a certain point, with unexpected consequences. But apart from this tiny transgression, she’s too vanilla to be a very compelling character.” — Peter DeBruge, Variety, 20 Feb. 2020

Did you know?

How did vanilla get such a bad rap? The flavor with that name certainly has enough fans, with the bean of the Vanilla genus of orchids finding its way into products ranging from ice cream to coffee to perfumes to air fresheners. Vanilla’s unfortunate reputation arose due to its being regarded as the “basic” flavor among ice-cream selections, particularly as more complex flavors emerged on the market. (Its somewhat beigey color probably didn’t help.) From there, people began using the adjective to describe anything plain, ordinary, or conventional.

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