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What's the difference between "veggie" and "vegetable"? Can I use them interchangeably? or is there any difference in terms of meaning and usage?

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In British English, veggie means vegetarian (at least according to the Collins Dictionary). It can also be an adjective which is used to talk about food that doesn't contain any meat or fish: Going veggie can be tasty, easy and healthy too. Veg is an informal British word which means a vegetable or vegetables: I like both fruit and veg.

In American English veggie means vegetable first of all. But of course it is more informal than vegetable: ...well-balanced meals of fresh fruit and veggies, chicken, fish, pasta, and no red meat.

So, if you want to use veggie right, mind the regional differences and and the level of formality appropriate to your situation.

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    I'm not sure I buy this differentiation. Yes, veggie can be used to refer to a vegetarian or vegetarian diet, but I think it is just as equally likely in British English to refer to vegetables themselves, with the context making it obvious which one is meant. i.e. "eat your veggies" would be a pretty common usage and nobody would think you were asking them to eat a vegetarian... – Sean Burton Sep 5 '18 at 11:07
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    As British vegetarian I would second that use of the term in BrE could either mean vegetarian or vegetable, depending on context, and neither is a particularly unusual use of the word, but it is definitely informal (I admit I personally hate the word "veggie" in either use - it sounds infantile to me). – Carcer Sep 5 '18 at 11:32
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    Call me uneducated, but I thought that British informal for the noun "vegetable" was "veg", while the adjective was "veggie". – Mr Lister Sep 5 '18 at 11:46
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    @MrLister I think you're right, for example we say "Meat and two veg" ("veg" is a mass noun like "meat", pronounced "vedj"), meaning one portion of meat plus two portions of vegetables; and we say "veggie lasagna" to mean a lasagna containing veg and no meat. "Eat your veggies" would be understood (maybe someone would joke about eating a vegetarian...), but sounds to me like something an Australian would say, or maybe something adults would say to children to make the veg sound fun; more common in UK is "Eat your greens" or "Eat your veg". Answer looks right to me. – user56reinstatemonica8 Sep 5 '18 at 12:08
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    The UK does have a lot more regional variation in dialect than outsiders seem to think, so it's possible that the word "veggie" meaning vegetable is more common in some areas than others. I'll concede that "veg" is probably a more common abbreviation for vegetable, though. – Carcer Sep 5 '18 at 13:27
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Veggie is informal and casual and vegetable is standard English. You would use veggie in relaxed speech or writing and vegetable in more formal writing.

  • Note that veggie is also Standard English (just like vegetable). The difference is only in style, as you said – veggie is confined to informal style, with vegetable being fairly neutral. – userr2684291 Sep 5 '18 at 15:41
  • I have noticed that 'veggie' appears in Australian media in situations where Brits use 'vegetable'. – Michael Harvey Sep 5 '18 at 19:50
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In Australian English, "veggie" is an informal way of saying "vegetable". In certain formal contexts, for example books about health or recipe books, "veggie" is frequently seen. However, in technical contexts (e.g. "is a tomato a fruit or vegetable?", "ginger is technically a vegetable") it is unusual to say "veggie".

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    Also, you'll almost never hear 'veg' from Australians. Veggie is the noun: "Eat your veggies or you don't get ice-cream", and the adjective: "What is the even the point of a veggie lasagne?". Vegemite gets its name from the fact it is a vegetable extract. I would expect, though I don't know, that Australia would also be the only place you'd hear 'veggie' as a diminutive for persons suffering from severe brain damage, that may be known (by the politically incorrect) as vegetables elsewhere. – mcalex Sep 6 '18 at 6:40

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