What does the term hot chips mean?

Does the word hot mean that they are served hot (referring to their temperature), or rather that they are spicy (or sprinkled with chilli)?

The answers are very appreciated.

Edit: I live in a non-English speaking country, saw the term in a book and need to find a term in my local language. The text was on a board which the owner put on their "hot chip stand". I am not sure if the word is used to emphasize the temperature (meaning that they are fresh, just prepared) or a taste variant.

Edit 2: The text is in Australian English, i.e. the author refers to French fries (or pommes frites). Frankly, I've never seen them with chilly, in our country, they are sold with mustard, ketchup or mayonnaise. On the other hand, they are always sold hot and in my opinion there is no need to emphasize this fact. And this is the reason of my confusion.

  • I can imagine a menu distinguishing hot chips from plain chips; but to distinguish hot chips from cold chips seems less likely. What establishment serves cold chips? – Andrew Leach Mar 20 at 17:33
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    I can't answer your question, because without context I would not know which interpretation is meant. The phrase is not a familiar one to me. Where I live, chips are what the Americans call "fries", so they are normally served hot, and never as far as I know served spicy. (Chips with curry sauce is a thing, but I've never heard it called "hot chips"). – Colin Fine Mar 20 at 18:31
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    I just found a picture of a 'hot chips stand' (note: 'chips') in an open-air Christmas market in Prague. The article was by an Indian travel writer visiting Europe. What the stand sold was (thermally) hot 'fries' in paper cones. They have thus-named stands in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand that I know of. – Michael Harvey Mar 20 at 19:23
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    In the UK, you used (before Covid) to see chip stands, booths, vans, etc, at funfairs or the seaside, wherever crowds gather, but I don't think many people said 'hot' at the start, because it is a given that they are so. – Michael Harvey Mar 20 at 19:32
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    The OP already knows that the word hot in English has two distinct meanings when applied to food, and that the chips could be hot in either of these two ways. Whether the particular chips in question were hot in one way or the other is something that we can only guess. Some of these guesses may be more plausible than the others, but none of them is likely to illuminate anything about English language and usage. – jsw29 Mar 20 at 22:04

In Australian English the word "chips" refers both to deep fried thick strips of potato, normally served fresh and hot and called French fries in US English, and to thin slices of potato cooked until they are crisp, usually bought in packets and called "crisps" in UK English. "Hot chips" especially on a market stand sign would almost always refer to the freshly fried ones. The word "hot" is used on a sign to claim that they are fresh enough to retain their heat.

Note that many Australians distinguish French fries as having a smaller cross section than normal chips.

Also note that the linked picture clearly shows strips, so they are not crisps.

  • I will correct my answer appropriately. – Peter Mar 21 at 8:24

It generally means hot as in spicy. This can be seen on the product descriptions of hot chips.

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    That depends in whether chips is used in the American or the British sense! – Kate Bunting Mar 20 at 19:58
  • That's right, but I assumed it was used in an American sense from the context, as I've never seen a french fry stand(British chip) referred to as hot; the additional adjective of "hot" is not usually necessary to describe them. "Hot chip" is commonly used in AmE to refer to a popular food product coated in spicy red coating. – Rubrud Mar 20 at 20:31
  • @Rubrud - South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand are part of the British English zone, and they are happy with 'hot' before 'chip stand', even though the actual Brits in GB might not be. – Michael Harvey Mar 21 at 0:20

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