verb (used with object)

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 formspep·per·er, nounpep·per·ish, adjectivepep·per·ish·ly, adverbun·pep·pered, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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Contemporary Examples of pepper

Historical Examples of pepper

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 condimentSee also black pepper, white pepper
any of various other plants of the genus PiperSee 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 condimentSee 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 (tr)

to season with pepper
to sprinkle liberally; dothis prose was peppered with alliteration
to pelt with small missiles

Word Origin for pepper

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

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