I know this question sounds strange, but when I see green pepper in a menu, I don't know which one it is. Any way I can distinguish them? (I know the last one is referred to as hot, but that doesn't always help.)

1 - Green pepper Green peppercorns

2 - Green pepper a green bell pepper

3 - Green pepper a green chili pepper

  • 2
    My first mental image for green pepper is #2. I would say #3 is green chile, and #1 is green pepper seeds. (I'm not a native speaker.) Dec 17, 2013 at 13:35
  • 4
    I believe item 1 is (green) peppercorns.
    – Hellion
    Dec 17, 2013 at 15:55
  • Quite interesting question. In my mother-tongue (German) "green pepper" (grüner Pfeffer) would only apply to #1. The others do have distinctly different names (Paprika, Peperoni). Thus, I'm pretty sure I've already mistaken #2 for #3 when reading a menu.
    – Em1
    Dec 17, 2013 at 20:25

2 Answers 2


The phrase "green pepper" always refers to type (2). It is the name of this type of pepper (in the same way that "bluebird" is the name of a specific species of bird.)

Type (1) looks like (the mass noun) pepper, where this particular instance happens to be green. A menu should never use "green pepper" to refer to this, because it will confuse the customers.

Type (3) looks like a hot pepper of some sort. I can't identify the species. It would be called a pepper, but never a "green pepper." If the listener was confused, I might say, "I have a pepper. It happens to be green. It is not a green pepper."

If a menu advertises "pepper" (mass noun) it means a ground up version of the thing in (1). If a menu advertises "peppers" (without the adjective green, red, jalapeno, banana, ...) then you will get something like (2) or (3), but you can't really know ahead of time.

So "I like my eggs with pepper." (I want my eggs with a ground up version of (1) on them.)

"I like my eggs with peppers." (I want my eggs mixed together with a sliced up version of (2) or (3) or maybe some other type of pepper.)

For the record, I personally don't like item (2) and was disappointed once when I ordered "pepper steak" from a Chinese restaurant. I expected a steak covered in item (1). What I got was sliced steak cooked with item (2). I think that dish should instead have been called "steak with peppers" or "steak with green peppers."

  • 4
    type (2) is also called a "bell pepper" sometimes, I think precisely to get rid of this confusion. There is a red thing that tastes exactly like type (2) and is called a "red bell pepper" sometimes.
    – hunter
    Dec 17, 2013 at 13:38
  • 5
    As pictured, (1) is usually peppercorns; it becomes bare pepper when ground. The corn includes both fruit and seed, and different colors of pepper--black, white, red--are produced by selecting corns of different ripeness and by removing or leaving the outer skin. Dec 17, 2013 at 13:49
  • 2
    Type (1) is called green peppercorns and not green pepper. Type (3) is called a green chili and not a green pepper. Dec 17, 2013 at 17:21
  • 1
    #3 is a green chili pepper. I don't recall ever hearing someone refer to this as a "green pepper", but I have frequently heard people refer to the red variety as "red peppers". So if you want to be clear, #2 is a "green bell pepper" and #3 is a "green chili pepper". I think I can safely say that the word "pepper" is not the only word in the English language that can be ambiguous.
    – Jay
    Dec 17, 2013 at 17:35
  • 1
    I think there's a bit of variation in what people call each one, and I don't think they're always given distinct names. I often refer to both bell and hot peppers as "peppers". When ground, I refer to red chili peppers as "red chili pepper", and when crushed, as "crushed red chili pepper".
    – user230
    Dec 18, 2013 at 13:28

Number 1 is green peppercorns. See http://www.green-peppercorns.com/

Number 2 is just a green pepper (plural green peppers). See http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/green-pepper?q=green+pepper

For number 3, you can refer to it as a green chilli. The word pepper, is not necessary when talking about it. If you must use it, you can call it a green chilli pepper.

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