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

  • n. Black pepper.
  • n. Any of several plants of the genus Piper, as cubeb, betel, and kava.
  • n. Any of several tropical American, cultivated forms of Capsicum frutescens or C. annuum, having podlike, many-seeded, variously colored berries.
  • n. The podlike fruit of any of these plants, varying in size, shape, and degree of pungency, with the milder types including the bell pepper and pimiento, and the more pungent types including the cherry pepper.
  • n. Any of various condiments made from the more pungent varieties of Capsicum frutescens, such as cayenne pepper, tabasco pepper, and chili. Also called hot pepper.
  • n. Baseball A warm-up exercise in which players standing a short distance from a batter field the ball and toss it to the batter, who hits each toss back to the fielders. Also called pepper game.
  • transitive v. To season or sprinkle with pepper.
  • transitive v. To sprinkle liberally; dot.
  • transitive v. To shower with or as if with small missiles. See Synonyms at barrage2.
  • transitive v. To make (a speech, for example) lively and vivid with wit or invective.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A plant of the family Piperaceae.
  • n. A spice prepared from the fermented, dried, unripe red berries of this plant.
  • n. A fruit of the capsicum: red, green, yellow or white, hollow and containing seeds, and in very spicy and mild varieties.
  • n. A game used by baseball players to warm up where fielders standing close to a batter rapidly return the batted ball to be hit again
  • v. To add pepper to.
  • v. To strike with something made up of small particles.
  • v. To be covered with lots of (something made up of small things).
  • v. To add (something) at frequent intervals.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A well-known, pungently aromatic condiment, the dried berry, either whole or powdered, of the Piper nigrum.
  • n. The plant which yields pepper, an East Indian woody climber (Piper nigrum), with ovate leaves and apetalous flowers in spikes opposite the leaves. The berries are red when ripe. Also, by extension, any one of the several hundred species of the genus Piper, widely dispersed throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the earth.
  • n. Any plant of the genus Capsicum (of the Solanaceae family, which are unrelated to Piper), and its fruit; red pepper; chili pepper. These contain varying levels of the substance capsaicin (C18H27O3N), which gives the peppers their hot taste. The habanero is about 25-50 times hotter than the jalapeno according to a scale developed by Wilbur Scoville in 1912. See also Capsicum and
  • intransitive v. To fire numerous shots (at).
  • transitive v. To sprinkle or season with pepper.
  • transitive v. Figuratively: To shower shot or other missiles, or blows, upon; to pelt; to fill with shot, or cover with bruises or wounds.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To sprinkle with pepper; make pungent: as, mutton-chops well peppered.—2. To pelt with shot or other missiles; hit with what pains or annoys; also, to attack with bitter or pungent words.
  • To cover with small sores.
  • To pelt thoroughly; give a quietus to; do for.
  • n. The product of plants of the genus Piper, chiefly of P. nigrum, consisting of the berries, which afford an aromatic and pungent condiment.
  • n. Any plant of the genus Piper; especially, one that produces the pepper of commerce (see def. 1).
  • n. A plant of the genus Capsicum, or one of its pods. These pods are the source of Cayenne pepper, and form the green and red peppers used in sauces, etc.
  • n. A bitter, biting drink [peppermint, Morris].
  • n. A pepper-caster: as, a pair of silver-mounted peppers.
  • n. In the West Indies, also, other plants of the genus Xylopia.
  • n. See Capsicum.
  • n. Same as chilli.
  • n. Same as wall-pepper.
  • n. A tall shrub of the pepper family, Piper Novæ-Hollandiæ, found in dense forests where it climbs to the tops of the tallest trees. It is used in the treatment of catarrhal affections. Called also native pepper-vine.

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

  • n. any of various tropical plants of the genus Capsicum bearing peppers
  • v. add pepper to
  • n. sweet and hot varieties of fruits of plants of the genus Capsicum
  • v. attack and bombard with or as if with missiles
  • n. pungent seasoning from the berry of the common pepper plant of East India; use whole or ground
  • n. climber having dark red berries (peppercorns) when fully ripe; southern India and Sri Lanka; naturalized in northern Burma and Assam


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

Middle English peper, from Old English pipor, from Latin piper, from Greek peperi, of Indic origin; akin to Prakrit pipparī, from Sanskrit pippalī, from pippalam, pipal.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English piper, from Latin piper, from an Indo-Aryan source; compare Sanskrit पिप्पलि (pippali, "long pepper").



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  • "The Portuguese realized they needed more than guns if they wanted pepper. Fugger's silver and copper weren't gold, but India wanted these metals too. Soon, Portugal became Fugger's best customer for metal. He sent wagons full of the ores of silver and copper from Hungary to Antwerp where porters loaded it on ships for Lisbon. Portugal paid him with pepper, making him one of Europe's largest spice wholesalers. Detractors called Fugger a profiteer, a monopolist and a Jew among other things. The spice voyage earned him another name: Pepper Sack. His pepper deals were more visible than his mining activities. Many assumed pepper was his main business."

    --Greg Steinmetz, The Richest Man Who Ever Lived: The Life and Times of Jacob Fugger (NY and London: Simon & Schuster, 2015), 59-60

    February 6, 2017

  • Another usage/historical note can be found on chili. How pepper was packed by merchants for shipment/transport can be found on fondaci. Some info about its relative value in the late-medieval/Renaissance/early-modern period can be found on cloves and more on sporta and sueldos carlines.

    December 6, 2016

  • "The Romans were not the first Europeans to eat pepper, but they were the first to do so with any regularity.... cuminsesame, coriander, oregano, and saffron are all mentioned in the Greek New Comedy of the fourth and third centuries B.C., but as yet no Eastern spices. It was not that the spices were unknown or that no one had yet thought to eat them, but rather than their exorbitant cost rendered them too precious for consumption by all but the very wealthy. There is a fragment by the Attic poet Antiphanes dating from the fourth century B.C.: 'If a man should bring home some pepper he's bought, they propose a motion that he be tortured as a spy.'--from which not much can be extracted other than a vague allusion to a high cost. Another fragment contains a recipe for an appetizer of pepper, salad leaf, sedge (a grassy flowering herb), and Egyptian perfume."
    --Jack Turner, _Spice: The History of a Temptation_ (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), 58-59.

    November 30, 2016

  • "There was a time not long ago when the more straitlaced residents of the Maine coast were liable to hear themselves dismissed as 'too pious to eat black pepper'--a recollection, perhaps subliminal, of a time when spices had been forbidden foods."

    --Jack Turner, _Spice: The History of a Temptation_ (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), xvii.

    November 26, 2016

  • Or half "pee", depending on your perspective.

    June 16, 2010

  • It's half peas, don'tcha know!

    June 16, 2010

  • Public School Slang: to mark in the accents on a Greek exercise.

    April 14, 2009