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[pep-er] /ˈpɛp ər/
a pungent condiment obtained from various plants of the genus Piper, especially from the dried berries, used whole or ground, of the tropical climbing shrub P. nigrum.
any plant of the genus Piper.
Compare pepper family.
any of several plants of the genus Capsicum, especially C. annuum, cultivated in many varieties, or C. frutescens.
the usually green or red fruit of any of these plants, ranging from mild to very pungent in flavor.
the pungent seeds of several varieties of C. annuum or C. frutescens, used ground or whole as a condiment.
Baseball. pepper game.
verb (used with object)
to season with or as if with pepper.
to sprinkle or cover, as if with pepper; dot.
to sprinkle like pepper.
to hit with rapidly repeated short jabs.
to pelt with or as if with shot or missiles:
They peppered the speaker with hard questions.
to discharge (shot or missiles) at something.
Origin of pepper
before 1000; Middle English peper, piper, Old English pipor (> Old Norse pipari, piparr) < Latin piper < Greek péperi; compare Old Frisian piper, Dutch peper, Old High German pfeffar (German Pfeffer); these and Old English pipor perhaps < a common West Germanic borrowing < Latin
Related forms
pepperer, noun
pepperish, adjective
pepperishly, adverb
unpeppered, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pepper
  • Spiciness is a chili pepper's best defense against seed-attacking microbes.
  • Stories of pepper spray have been all over the news lately.
  • Capsaicin helps the pepper to scare off mammals but does not affect birds that could spread the pepper seeds.
  • She added a pepper-based cream that made my skin sensitive to heat.
  • The hot pepper seeds in the droppings germinate right there and this is an ideal shady spot for them to grow.
  • Season the rabbit meat with salt and pepper and place it in the skillet.
  • It can be simply flavored with olive oil, salt and pepper, or smothered with spices.
  • It is a basic white sauce with salt, pepper and nutmeg- you can add cheeses for more flavor.
  • She then placed each sample into a jar with a bit of salt and pepper, and cooked it for an hour.
  • Look carefully, though, and much of today's gloom is as overdone as the military metaphors that now pepper the currency debate.
British Dictionary definitions for pepper


a woody climbing plant, Piper nigrum, of the East Indies, having small black berry-like fruits: family Piperaceae
the dried fruit of this plant, which is ground to produce a sharp hot condiment See also black pepper, white pepper
any of various other plants of the genus Piper See cubeb, betel, kava
Also called capsicum. any of various tropical plants of the solanaceous genus Capsicum, esp C. frutescens, the fruits of which are used as a vegetable and a condiment See also bird pepper, sweet pepper, red pepper, cayenne pepper
the fruit of any of these capsicums, which has a mild or pungent taste
the condiment made from the fruits of any of these plants
any of various similar but unrelated plants, such as water pepper
verb (transitive)
to season with pepper
to sprinkle liberally; dot: his prose was peppered with alliteration
to pelt with small missiles
Word Origin
Old English piper, from Latin, from Greek peperi; compare French poivre, Old Norse piparr
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pepper

Old English pipor, from an early West Germanic borrowing of Latin piper "pepper," from Greek piperi, probably (via Persian) from Middle Indic pippari, from Sanskrit pippali "long pepper." The Latin word is the source of German Pfeffer, Italian pepe, French poivre, Old Church Slavonic pipru, Lithuanian pipiras, Old Irish piobhar, Welsh pybyr, etc. Application to fruits of the capsicum family (unrelated, originally native of tropical America) is 16c.


"to sprinkle as with pepper," 1610s, from pepper (n.). Old English had gepipera. Meaning "to pelt with shot, etc." is from 1640s. Related: Peppered; peppering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for pepper


  1. Energy; vitality; pep: The old moral support is what gives we players the old pepper (1895+)
  2. A fast and hard session of pitch-and-catch; burnout (1920s+ Baseball)
  3. (also pepper belly) A Mexican or person of Mexican extraction (1920s+)

To throw a baseball very hard; burn (1920s+ Baseball)

Related Terms

salt and pepper

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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pepper in Technology

A variant of POP-11 by Chris Dollin

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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