bhut jolokia


bhut jo·​lo·​kia ˈbüt-jō-ˈlō-kē-ə How to pronounce bhut jolokia (audio)
plural bhut jolokias
: a small, extremely hot chili pepper : ghost pepper
The bhut jolokia is a hundred and fifty times hotter than a jalapeño.Lauren Collins
The newest addition to India's antiterrorism arsenal is tastier than most. After successful trials in defense labs, the military is converting bhut jolokia—the world's hottest chili—into hand grenades.Time

Word History


borrowed from Assamese bhüt-zolokiya (in semi-phonetic transliteration; in Sanskritic transliteration bhōṭ-jalakīyā, phonetically bhʊt-zɔlɔkiya), from bhüt- (probably truncated from bhütiya "of Bhutan, Bhutanese," going back to Old Indo-Aryan *bhōṭṭīya "Tibetan") + zolokiya "pepper," of uncertain origin

Note: This form of the compound is recorded in the University of Gauhati's Candrakānta Abhidhānya (3rd edition, 1987), a comprehensive dictionary of Assamese with English glosses, as a variant (in quotation marks) of bih-zolokiya, literally, "poison pepper." However, the conventional translation as "ghost chili" or "ghost pepper" points to a variant (or misunderstanding?) bhut-zolokiya (in Sanskritic transliteration bhut-jalakīyā), with bhut "ghost, goblin, evil spirit" (corresponding to Sanskrit bhūtá "being, spirit, demon"). The forms bhüt /bhʊt/ and bhut /bhut/ differ only in the vowel, as the dental and retroflex stops have merged in Assamese.

First Known Use

2006, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bhut jolokia was in 2006

Dictionary Entries Near bhut jolokia

Cite this Entry

“Bhut jolokia.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jun. 2024.

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