Veg`e*ta*ble (?), a. [F. v'eg'etable growing, capable of growing, formerly also, as a noun, a vegetable, from L. vegetabilis enlivening, from vegetare to enliven, invigorate, quicken, vegetus enlivened, vigorous, active, vegere to quicken, arouse, to be lively, akin to vigere to be lively, to thrive, vigil watchful, awake, and probably to E. wake, v. See Vigil, Wake, v.]


Of or pertaining to plants; having the nature of, or produced by, plants; as, a vegetable nature; vegetable growths, juices, etc.

Blooming ambrosial fruit Of vegetable gold. Milton.


Consisting of, or comprising, plants; as, the vegetable kingdom.

Vegetable kingdom Nat. Hist., that primary division of living things which includes all plants. The classes of the vegetable kingdom have been grouped differently by various botanists. The following is one of the best of the many arrangements of the principal subdivisions.

<--- Note: this section was divided into two columns, the right-hand column being delimited and separated from the left-hand column by a long brace on the its left side. The portion in the right-hand column of each of these two divisions is instead included here within braces. The definitions of the divisions were in the left-hand column, centered on the right-hand segments. --> I. Phaenogamia (called also Phanerogamia).

Plants having distinct flowers and true seeds.

{ 1. Dicotyledons (called also Exogens). -- Seeds with two or more cotyledons. Stems with the pith, woody fiber, and bark concentrically arranged. Divided into two subclasses: Angiosperms, having the woody fiber interspersed with dotted or annular ducts, and the seed contained in a true ovary; Gymnosperms, having few or no ducts in the woody fiber, and the seeds naked. 2. Monocotyledons (called also Endogens). -- Seeds with single cotyledon. Stems with slender bundles of woody fiber not concentrically arranged, and with no true bark.}

II. Cryptogamia.

Plants without true flowers, and reproduced by minute spores of various kinds, or by simple cell division.

{ 1. Acrogens. -- Plants usually with distinct stems and leaves, existing in two alternate conditions, one of which is nonsexual and sporophoric, the other sexual and oophoric. Divided into Vascular Acrogens, or Pteridophyta, having the sporophoric plant conspicuous and consisting partly of vascular tissue, as in Ferns, Lycopods, and Equiseta, and Cellular Acrogens, or Bryophyta, having the sexual plant most conspicuous, but destitute of vascular tissue, as in Mosses and Scale Mosses. 2. Thallogens. -- Plants without distinct stem and leaves, consisting of a simple or branched mass of cellular tissue, or educed to a single cell. Reproduction effected variously. Divided into Algae, which contain chlorophyll or its equivalent, and which live upon air and water, and Fungi, which contain no chlorophyll, and live on organic matter. (Lichens are now believed to be fungi parasitic on included algae.}

⇒ Many botanists divide the Phaenogamia primarily into Gymnosperms and Angiosperms, and the latter into Dicotyledons and Monocotyledons. Others consider Pteridophyta and Bryophyta to be separate classes. Thallogens are variously divided by different writers, and the places for diatoms, slime molds, and stoneworts are altogether uncertain.

For definitions, see these names in the Vocabulary.


© Webster 1913.

Veg"e*ta*ble (?), n.

1. Biol.

A plant. See Plant.


A plant used or cultivated for food for man or domestic animals, as the cabbage, turnip, potato, bean, dandelion, etc.; also, the edible part of such a plant, as prepared for market or the table.

<-- 3. A person who has permanently lost consciousness, due to damage to the brain, but remains alive; sometimes continued life requires support by machinery such as breathing tubes. SUch a person is said to be in a vegetative state. -->

Vegetables and fruits are sometimes loosely distinguished by the usual need of cooking the former for the use of man, while the latter may be eaten raw; but the distinction often fails, as in the case of quinces, barberries, and other fruits, and lettuce, celery, and other vegetables. Tomatoes if cooked are vegetables, if eaten raw are fruits.


© Webster 1913.