Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of various fat-soluble or water-soluble organic substances essential in minute amounts for normal growth and activity of the body and obtained naturally from plant and animal foods.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of a specific group of organic compounds essential in small quantities for healthy human growth, metabolism, development, and body function; found in minute amounts in plant and animal foods or sometimes produced synthetically; deficiencies of specific vitamins produce specific disorders.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. any of several organic chemical substances not synthesized by an animal and required in small quantities for normal metabolism, present in and obtained from the natural foods eaten by the animal. Human vitamins are also produced synthetically, and taken in pure form or in mixtures, as dietary supplements. Deficiencies of specific vitamins lead to certain specific disorders, such as scurvy, caused by an insufficiency of vitamin C (ascorbic acid).

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. any of a group of organic substances essential in small quantities to normal metabolism

Etymologies

Alteration of vitamine : Latin vīta, life; see gwei- in Indo-European roots + amine (so called because they were originally thought to be amines).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
1920, originally vitamine (1912), from Latin vīta ("life") (see vital) + amine (see amino acids). Vitamine coined by Polish biochemist Casimir Funk after the initial discovery of aberic acid (thiamine), when it was thought that all such nutrients would be amines. The term had become ubiquitous by the time it was discovered that vitamin C, among others, had no amine component. In 1920, British biochemist Jack Drummond proposed that the final -e be dropped to deemphasize the amine reference. The ending -in was acceptable because it was used for neutral substances of undefined composition. Drummond introduced the lettering system of nomenclature (Vitamin A, B, C, etc.) also at this same time. (Wiktionary)

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