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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Vanilla \Va*nil"la\, n. [NL., fr. Sp. vainilla, dim. of Sp. vaina a sheath, a pod, L. vagina; because its grains, or seeds, are contained in little pods.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Bot.) A genus of climbing orchidaceous plants, natives of tropical America. [1913 Webster] 2. The long podlike capsules of Vanilla planifolia, and Vanilla claviculata, remarkable for their delicate and agreeable odor, for the volatile, odoriferous oil extracted from them; also, the flavoring extract made from the capsules, extensively used in confectionery, perfumery, etc. [1913 Webster] Note: As a medicine, vanilla is supposed to possess powers analogous to valerian, while, at the same time, it is far more grateful. [1913 Webster] Cuban vanilla, a sweet-scented West Indian composite shrub (Eupatorium Dalea). Vanilla bean, the long capsule of the vanilla plant. Vanilla grass. Same as Holy grass, under Holy. [1913 Webster]