early 13c., from O.Fr. espice
, from L.L. species
(pl.) "spices, goods, wares," from L. "kind, sort" (see species
). Early druggists recognized four "types" of spices: saffron, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg. Fig. sense of "slight touch or trace of something" is recorded from 1530s. The verb, "to season with spices" is first recorded early 14c. (implied in spiced
is from 1560s; in the fig. sense of "racy, salacious" it dates from 1844. Spice-cake
first attested 1520s.