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What word other than hot can I use to make the distinction between hot as in temperature and hot as in very spicy food?

Especially in connection with food, the word hot is very ambiguous (well, unless it's chili-spiced ice cream, I suppose).

Many other languages have a distinction and use separate words. What about English?

Clarification: I know that I can use the word spicy, I'm more interested in avoiding the ambiguity when using the word hot (meaning temperature). Perhaps that was unclear.

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I'm confused. Your original title seemed to make it clear you were looking for synonyms for spicy. – Callithumpian Jun 2 '11 at 2:47
+1 Good question in my book. I've taken to saying the awkward "it is temperature hot". – T.E.D. Jun 2 '11 at 11:50
@Callithumpian: sorry for the confusion. I was looking for synonyms with both meanings. And the answers coming in were all in just one direction then. – 0xC0000022L Jun 2 '11 at 13:15
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Absent any context that indicates spiciness, my default interpretation of "hot" is temperature. But I'm just one person. If you want to avoid all ambiguity, you're pretty much stuck using "warm" or "scalding" or "boiling" or "toasty" or "just out of the oven" or some other synonym of hot. Of those, warm is probably the most all-purpose word, and least likely to be misinterpreted. (The other option is to include an adverb that makes it clear which meaning of hot you intended. For example, piping hot.)

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Thanks a bunch. I like "scalding". :) – 0xC0000022L Jun 2 '11 at 1:41

Here are a few:

  • boiling
  • roasting
  • sizzling
  • steaming
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Right. If you say in English that a food is "hot," that can refer to it's spiciness or its prepared temperature.

If you want to be clear about the spiciness, you can say it is "piquant," or "fiery." Otherwise, you can develop a more elaborate description for clarification, e.g., "that was so hot it almost blew my head off!"

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Thank you. Is there an alternative for the opposite direction? See my clarification in the question. When using "hot" for the temperature how can I convey that meaning without the ambiguity? – 0xC0000022L Jun 2 '11 at 1:05

If peppers are the source of spiciness, peppery is another possibility:

strongly flavored with pepper or other hot spices

Spicy food is also often said to have a kick.

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Thanks, hadn't heard "peppery" or the "kick", yet ;) – 0xC0000022L Jun 2 '11 at 1:01

Why not just say it's "spicy"? What else are you trying to convey?

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Thanks. I'm trying to avoid the ambiguity when using "hot" (for temperature). Tried to clarify it in the question. – 0xC0000022L Jun 2 '11 at 1:02
Ah, misunderstood the original question. I think boehj has a good answer for what you're asking. – Monica Cellio Jun 2 '11 at 14:13

A common way of stating high temperature on any day would be:

It's very warm.

Spicy food is just "spicy"

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Possibly: "sharp" and/or "pungent".

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