When is a Vanilla Bean Not a Bean?

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More

Is a vanilla bean actually a bean?

Anyone who has ever tried to mock someone else for their obviously incorrect pronunciation of a certain word knows that dictionary writers — lexicographers — simply can't be trusted. You pull out your dictionary, turn to the right page, begin to form the word "Aha!" with your lips, and then find that the dictionary includes not only your own beloved pronunciation, but the pronunciation of the person you are trying to embarrass, as well as several other choices that you've never heard in your life. Worse, it has the mockee's pronunciation first in the list.

Needless to say that has never happened to us, but we are of the opinion that dictionaries expand exponentially with each new edition to take in every possible pronunciation and every possible definition that can be applied to a certain word. How are you not going to find vanilla bean somewhere under the definition of bean?

In fact, a vanilla bean is a pod — "a dry fruit or seed vessel developed from a single carpel enclosing one or more seeds and generally splitting along two sutures at maturity." The bean definition that comes closest is, "a pod with such seeds [of the genus of the pea family] eaten as a vegetable when still unripe."

So technically the lexicographers have not yet broken down the wall between pod and bean, and you can sleep soundly tonight knowing that a vanilla bean is still a pod and a bean is still a bean.

Related Articles:
How to Store Vanilla Beans
Reviving Dry Vanilla Beans
What is a Sachet of Vanilla?
Substituting Vanilla Extract for Vanilla Bean
Substituting Vanilla Bean for Vanilla Extract