1660s, "pod of the vanilla plant," from Spanish vainilla "vanilla plant," literally "little pod," diminutive of vaina "sheath," from Latin vagina "sheath of an ear of grain, hull of a plant" (see vagina). So called from the shape of the pods. European discovery 1521 by Hernando Cortes' soldiers on reconnaissance in southeastern Mexico. Meaning "flavoring extracted from the vanilla bean" is attested by 1728.
Adjectival meaning "conventional, of ordinary sexual preferences" is by 1970s, probably from the notion of whiteness and the common choice of vanilla ice cream; vanilla as figurative of a plain and conventional choice (without reference to sex) seems to date to the late 19c. as a noun, by 1940s (often plain vanilla) as an adjective.
"an extract from a written or printed work," 1630s, from Latin excerptum "an extract, selection," noun use of neuter past participle of excerpere "to extract" (see excerpt (v.)). Related: excerpts.
"hot espresso poured over vanilla ice cream and served as a dessert," by 1999, from Italian affogato, literally "drowned" (from the point of view of the ice cream).
"to take or cull out" a passage in a written or printed work, "select, cite, extract," early 15c. (implied in excerpte), from Latin excerptus, past participle of excerpere "pluck out, pick out, extract," figuratively "choose, select, gather," also "to leave out, omit," from ex "out" (see ex-) + carpere "pluck, gather," from PIE root *kerp- "to gather, pluck, harvest." Related: Excerpted; excerpting.
1805, "to kill by piercing the spinal cord," from pith (n.). By 1852 as "remove or extract the pith from." Related: Pithed; pithing.
1570s, "one who or that which distills," agent noun from distill. Especially "one whose occupation is to extract spirits by distillation" (1630s).