Etymology
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pepper (n.)

"dried berries of the pepper plant," Middle English peper, from 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 from 16c. To have pepper in the nose in Middle English was "to be supercilious or unapproachable."

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pepper (v.)

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

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pepper-caster (n.)

"pepper-box," 1670s, from pepper (n.) + caster (n.1). As a colloquial term for an early and clumsy form of revolver with a long cylinder, by 1889.

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pepper-box (n.)

"small box with a perforated lid, used for sprinkling ground pepper on food," 1540s, from pepper (n.) + box (n.1). Meaning "hot-tempered person" is by 1867.

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pepper-mill (n.)

"utensil in which peppercorns are ground by turning a handle," 1828, from pepper (n.) + mill (n.1). An older word for such a device was peperquerne (mid-14c.).

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pepper-pot (n.)

"pepper-box, pepper-caster," said to be more common in Britain than in U.S., 1670s, from pepper (n.) + pot (n.1). As the name of a West Indian dish or stew involving pepper and other spices, by 1690s.

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hasenpfeffer (n.)
1873, from German hasenpfeffer, from Hase "hare" (see hare (n.)) + pfeffer "pepper" (see pepper (n.)).
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peppercorn (n.)

"dried pepper berry," late Old English piporcorn, from pepper (n.) + corn (n.1). Used figuratively for "small particle, insignificant quality" by 1791.

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pepperoni (n.)

"beef and pork sausage seasoned with pepper," by 1904, from Italian peperone "chilli," from pepe (see pepper (n.)).

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peppery (adj.)

1690s, "of or pertaining to pepper," from pepper (n.) + -y (2). Figurative sense of "irritable, passionate, sharp" is from 1826. Related: Pepperiness.

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