They clearly look different and they don't have that much in common. Taxonomically, they also belong to different families

black and white pepper kernels a green, a red, and a yellow bell pepper


The Online Etymology Dictionary states that Latin piper is the source of the English word (as well as “German Pfeffer, Italian pepe, French poivre, Old Church Slavonic pipru, Lithuanian pipiras, Old Irish piobhar, Welsh pybyr, etc.”). It's ultimately from Sanskrit and originally referred to the Old World's Piper genus.

The New World's Capsicum genus came to be called “pepper” in the 16c. because of its similarities to black pepper. While they don't look much alike, they have common culinary uses. This is somewhat like the use of corn to refer to maize, although that appellation isn't entirely analogous.

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    what do you mean "common culinary uses"? – Louis Rhys Oct 30 '13 at 6:15
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    @LouisRhys They're both used to season food, with similar tastes. – Bradd Szonye Oct 30 '13 at 6:31
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    Where in the world are the words piper and bell pepper used? – Tristan Oct 30 '13 at 13:24
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    @Tristan Piper is the Latin name for pepper. Bell pepper is the common term in North America; no one at the grocery will know what a capsicum is. – choster Oct 30 '13 at 14:28
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    choster, thanks. I doubt anyone in the UK would know what any of those three, are. I hadn't heard of them. The words pepper and peppers are used here. – Tristan Oct 30 '13 at 14:35

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