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 These projectiles pop on impact, spraying capsaicin. Graham Kates, CBS News, "Flash grenades, rubber bullets and pepper balls: A look at "less than lethal" devices that can sometimes be fatal," 4 June 2020 But be aware that even natural ingredients that create a burning or tingling feeling, like menthol or capsaicin, may leave the skin irritated. New York Times, "Condoms With Extras? No Thanks," 10 Feb. 2020 For this kind of neuropathic pain, local, numbing medications such as lidocaine, Botox or capsaicin (a therapeutic substance from hot peppers) might be the right choice. Amber Dance, Scientific American, "The Unexpected Diversity of Pain," 20 Jan. 2020 The heat comes from a compound in the pepper called capsaicin. Darlene Zimmerman, Detroit Free Press, "Three-cheese pizza pockets: Here's how to make them healthier," 21 Dec. 2019 As to why hot bathing and capsaicin cream may provide relief, some doctors suspect that certain receptors in the gut, brain, and skin that govern nausea can be over-stimulated with large amounts of marijuana but calmed with heat., "Since recreational marijuana became legal in Massachusetts three years ago, hospitals have noticed more cases of a rare illness afflicting a small portion of heavy cannabis consumers.," 11 Nov. 2019 His rendition celebrates the dish’s umami warmth, without the overwhelming capsaicin sting. Los Angeles Times, "On a busy Inglewood corner, this cafe feels like a secret tea oasis," 28 Sep. 2019 Topical treatments – Products containing capsaicin, an ingredient in hot peppers, or lidocaine, a numbing agent, may help ease shingles pain., "What Is Shingles?," 1 May 2017 While working out the intricacies of the capsaicin receptor, Julius wanted to find molecules that tightly bound to it, and then use those compounds as guides to potential therapeutic target sites. Nadia Drake, National Geographic, "2020 Breakthrough Prizes: Who won this year's 'Oscars of science'?," 5 Sep. 2019

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

26 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Capsaicin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

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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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