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vanilla, a plant of the genus Vanilla of the family Orchidaceae (orchid family). Vines of hot, damp climates, most are indigenous to Central and South America, especially Mexico, but are now cultivated in other tropical regions. The fruits yield vanilla, a flavoring popular since pre-Columbian times, when the Aztecs used it in making chocolate. The commercial vanilla plant is usually V. planifolia (or V. fragrans). Since its natural pollinating agents (certain bees and hummingbirds) are uniquely adapted for this function, commercial plants must be pollinated by hand. The source of the flavor is an aromatic essence, vanillin, which crystallizes on the outside of the seed pod after a series of curing and drying processes. Vanilla flavoring is also obtained from the tonka bean, although now it is most commonly manufactured by the cheaper process of artificially synthesizing vanillin, as from coal tar, clove oil, or lignin, a byproduct of paper manufacture. Vanilla is usually marketed as an alcoholic extract for use as food and tobacco flavoring and in perfumery. Vanilla is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, order Orchidales, family Orchidaceae.
See P. Rain, Vanilla (2004).
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Referring to a generalized system, usually software, that has not been subjected to special modifications, enhancements, or customization. Also known as plain vanilla; pure vanilla.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. any tropical climbing orchid of the genus Vanilla, esp V. plonifolia, having spikes of large fragrant greenish-yellow flowers and long fleshy pods containing the seeds (beans)
2. the pod or bean of certain of these plants, used to flavour food, etc.
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
1. (Default flavour of ice cream in the US) Ordinary flavour, standard. When used of food, very often does not mean that the food is flavoured with vanilla extract! For example, "vanilla wonton soup" means ordinary wonton soup, as opposed to hot-and-sour wonton soup. Applied to hardware and software, as in "Vanilla Version 7 Unix can't run on a vanilla PDP 11/34." Also used to orthogonalise chip nomenclature; for instance, a 74V00 means what TI calls a 7400, as distinct from a 74LS00, etc. This word differs from canonical in that the latter means "default", whereas vanilla simply means "ordinary". For example, when hackers go to a chinese restaurant, hot-and-sour wonton soup is the canonical wonton soup to get (because that is what most of them usually order) even though it isn't the vanilla wonton soup.
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