chile de arbol


chile de ar·​bol ˈchē-(ˌ)lā-dā-är-ˈbōl How to pronounce chile de arbol (audio)
variants or chile de árbol
plural chiles de arbol or chiles de árbol
: a small, elongate hot pepper of Mexico that is bright red when mature
Chile de arbol, a relative of the cayenne pepper, it has an acidic, smoky heat that gives it a killer punch.John Keenan, Omaha World-Herald, 16 June 2006
Chiles de árbol are thin, red, very hot chiles available at supermarkets, specialty foods stores, and Latin markets.Carolynn Carreño, Bon Appétit, October 2010

Word History


borrowed from Spanish chile de árbol, literally, "tree pepper," translation of Nahuatl cuauhchīlli

Note: The Nahuatl word was recorded as quauhchilli and translated as "chile de arbol" in Francisco Hernández, Quatro libros de la naturaleza, y virtude de las plantas, y animales que estan recevidos en el uso de medicina en el Nueva España (México, 1615), "Cap. III [del Libro Segundo], Del chilli, o pimienta de las Yndias." Note that Nahuatl cuahuitl (stem cuauh-) means wood" or "stick" as well as "tree," so that the original sense of the compound may have been "woody chili," referring, perhaps, to the pepper's woody stems.

First Known Use

1970, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of chile de arbol was in 1970

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Dictionary Entries Near chile de arbol

Cite this Entry

“Chile de arbol.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jun. 2024.

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