from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A preserved or dried green, white, or black berry of the pepper plant Piper nigrum.
  • noun A dried fruit of any of various other plants, such as the pinkish-red fruit of the peppertree.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun See the extract and peppercorn hair.
  • noun The berry or fruit of the pepper-plant.
  • noun Hence A small particle; an insignificant quantity; something of inconsiderable value.
  • Of trifling or inconsiderable value or consequence.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A dried berry of the black pepper (Piper nigrum).
  • noun Anything insignificant; a particle.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The seeds of the plant Piper nigrum. Commonly used as a spice, usually but not always ground or crushed.
  • noun A small, insignificant quantity; a nominal consideration used to satisfy the requirements for the creation of a legal contract.

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

  • noun pungent seasoning from the berry of the common pepper plant of East India; use whole or ground


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • And she tells us a bit about the history of pepper, and where the expression "peppercorn rent" comes from.

    The Guardian World News Sam Wollaston 2011

  • WE've even pink saltlakes that occur naturally!!! then there's a species similar to pepper with a pink 'peppercorn'!!!!!

    The Pink Dress 2009

  • Wiki goes on to say that botanically, all chillies and peppers are basically chillies, and that pepper properly refers to our black "peppercorn" pepper.

    Archive 2007-08-01 Nupur 2007

  • Think about that the next time you see a "peppercorn" on your admittedly otherwise perfect DiFara's slice.

    DOH Must Be Stopped! Brooks of Sheffield 2007

  • Garlic, onions, whole spices such as peppercorn and sauces such as pesto maintain a better texture and don't turn bitter or overworked in the mortar.

    Hit List: Charlie Trotter 2007

  • It is kinky and grows in the little clusters or "peppercorn" bunches peculiar to negro races.

    The Negrito and Allied Types in the Philippines and The Ilongot or Ibilao of Luzon David Prescott Barrows 1913

  • The football club has since paid a "peppercorn" rent of £10 a year to use the facilities, with the condition they run youth teams and pay for the upkeep of the changing rooms.

    unknown title 2009

  • Dean, aged 45, from Southport, used to cook and eat more creamy and less healthy foods such as peppercorn sauces with steaks and chicken champignon.

    British Blogs 2008

  • And now it's just me, a sofa, a laptop, a cup of strawberry peppercorn tea, a Saturday, and forty student manuscripts.

    she sewed my new blue jeans gregvaneekhout 2009

  • Add more sea salt and peppercorn to taste, then add the grated cheese.

    Back on the horse! karenmiller 2009


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  • "The first known consumer of pepper on whom we can hang a name did not use his spice to season his dinner, for he was long past any pleasures of the flesh. He was, in fact, a corpse: the royal skin and bones of Rameses II, arguably the greatest of Egypt's pharoahs, up whose large, bent nose a couple of peppercorns were inserted not long after his death on July 12, 1224 B.C.

    "The upper reaches of the pharoah's nose mark the beginning, for the time being, of one of the most important chapters in the history of spice."

    --Jack Turner, _Spice: The History of a Temptation_ (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), 145

    December 2, 2016