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When you want to say that a food, for instance, is naturally hot, what do you call it?

Any help would be appreciated.

  • I presume you mean like chilli, not like boiling water. You'd actually say 'hot' but then you'd have to qualify it… so you end up saying 'spicy' instead. – gone fishin' again. Dec 1 '14 at 18:13
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    What do you mean by "naturally hot"? – starsplusplus Dec 2 '14 at 12:26
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You can use 'hot' to refer to food that is at a high temperature or that is 'spicy' in taste. It confuses us native english speakers all the time in conversations!

For example - both of these sound very standard:

  1. The nachos just came out of the oven and are very hot.

  2. The nachos are topped with jalapeños and are very hot.


I recommend using 'spicy' to refer to food that is naturally 'hot' in flavor to avoid confusion.

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    We often disambiguate with phrases like: "No, it's not "hot-hot" it's "spicy-hot" – Jim Dec 1 '14 at 18:22
  • There also tends to be a subtle stress on the word when mentioning temperature heat, which is given more as a 'danger' warning than the more casual warning that something is spicy - presumably because the former tends to cause injury while the latter usually only causes discomfort (other than in extreme cases, which would normally be mentioned)... Although I mention this more for reference/interest than as a consistent rule. – Jon Story Dec 1 '14 at 18:50
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    Note to learners - As @jim notes hot can be reliably (if informally) used to modify hot to indicate that the temperature is being described (e.g. hot-hot fried chicken). Many other words normally associated with temperature will not unambiguously perform the same function. For example "smoking hot," "blazing hot," "fiery hot," "flaming hot," and "burning hot" all could be used to describe spiciness. "Piping hot," however, refers exclusively to temperature. (AmE) – Adam Dec 1 '14 at 19:08
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    3. The nachos are an exciting new product and are very hot. (The nachos are selling quickly.) 4. The nachos have their serial numbers ground off and are very hot. (The nachos are stolen property.) 5. The nachos are wearing skimpy bikinis and are very hot. (The nachos are sexually appealing.) – Adam Dec 1 '14 at 21:08
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    5. I find the nachos rather attractive, wow they look hot in those skimpy ...ermmm… plates... ;) – gone fishin' again. Dec 1 '14 at 21:13

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