Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
November 9th, 2015
Episode 375 of 688 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 09, 2015 is: umami \oo-MAH-mee\ noun : a taste sensation that is meaty or savory and is produced by several amino acids and nucleotides (such as glutamate and aspartate) Examples: The cookbook has an entire chapter on umami, and lists a number of common ingredientsfrom tomato paste to Worcestershire sauce to anchoviesas easy ways to add it to dishes. "Adding even more umami to this dish is the nutritional yeast. It adds a wonderful aged-cheese-like flavor." Melissa d'Arabian, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 26 Sept. 2015 Did you know? Japanese scientist Kikunae Ikeda is credited with identifying as a distinct taste the savory flavor of the amino acid glutamic acid, which he first noticed in soup stocks made with seaweed. This fifth basic tastealongside sweet, sour, salty, and bitterwas named umami, meaning "savoriness" in Japanese. Umami can be experienced in foods such as mushrooms, anchovies, and mature cheeses, as well as in foods enhanced with monosodium glutamate, or MSG, a sodium salt derived from glutamic acid.