cap·​sa·​i·​cin | \ kap-ˈsā-ə-sən How to pronounce capsaicin (audio) \

Definition of capsaicin

: a colorless irritant phenolic amide C18H27NO3 found in various capsicums that gives hot peppers their hotness and that is used in topical creams for its analgesic properties

Examples of capsaicin in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Birds, which are natural seed dispersers and excrete seeds whole and intact, are immune to capsaicin, a biological reward for helping chilies to spread and propagate. Matt Siegel, WSJ, 28 Aug. 2021 Dairy, which actually breaks down the capsaicin bonds, is the best way to cool down your mouth. Noelle Ike, CNN Underscored, 4 Mar. 2021 Chiles develop white or brown striations on the flesh when under stress of heat and limited water, which translate to higher concentrations of capsaicin. Paul Stephen, San Antonio Express-News, 24 May 2021 Be warned this may affect pollinators, because the capsaicin in cayenne is toxic to bees. Jill Gleeson, Country Living, 18 May 2021 For three weeks, the researchers had the subjects rinse in the morning and at night with a mouthwash containing capsaicin, the active component in peppers that creates a burning sensation., 27 Mar. 2021 According to Albert Rizzo, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association, bear spray is a type of pepper spray, with an active ingredient — capsaicin — that’s derived from chile peppers. Washington Post, 19 Mar. 2021 In fact, capsaicin (the chemical compound that makes things taste hot) has actually been shown to reduce inflammation. Noelle Ike, CNN Underscored, 4 Mar. 2021 The Chilica-Pod’s results checked out, finding concentrations of capsaicin ranging from 7.5 to 90 micromoles per liter of solution, according to Science News. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, 12 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'capsaicin.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of capsaicin

1876, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for capsaicin

alteration of earlier capsicine, capsicin "material extracted from cayenne pepper," borrowed from German Capsicin, from New Latin Capsicum capsicum + German -in -in entry 1

Note: Name introduced by the British physician and chemist John Clough Thresh (1850-1932) in "Capsaicin, the Active Principle of Capsicum Fruits," The Pharmaceutical Journal and Transactions, 3. series, Vol. 7 (July 3, 1876), p. 21. Thresh altered the name more or less arbitrarily, presumably to prevent confusion with the name for the earlier mixture, the impurity of which he demonstrated. German Capsicin appears to have been introduced by the chemist Christian Friedrich Buchhol(t)z in "Chemische Untersuchung der trockenen reifen spanischen Pfeffers," Almanach oder Taschenbuch für Scheidekünstler und Apotheker, vol. 37 (1816), pp. 1-30.

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The first known use of capsaicin was in 1876

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Last Updated

7 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Capsaicin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for capsaicin


cap·​sa·​icin | \ kap-ˈsā-ə-sən How to pronounce capsaicin (audio) \

Medical Definition of capsaicin

: a colorless irritant phenolic amide C18H27NO3 found in various capsicums that gives hot peppers their hotness and that is used in topical creams for its analgesic properties — see zostrix

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