- 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.
- 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
- 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
- to season with pepper
- to sprinkle liberally; dothis prose was peppered with alliteration
- to pelt with small missiles
Word Origin 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.