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Sep 26, 2010 08:25 PM

Chilis, or Chilies, or Chiles, or Chillies...can we come to a decision ?

How is it spelled ?
Can we make a spelling law ?

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  1. According to the American Heritage Dictionary::

    "pl. -ies also -es or -lies"

    That does not include your first option -is

    I prefer to use 'chiles', both because it is similar to Spanish usage (different accent and vowel quality in Spanish), and I can't think of a good reason to add the 'i'.

    But the spelling program for this blog (or is it the browser?) likes 'chilies' and 'chillies', but not 'chiles'.

    1 Reply
    1. re: paulj

      The "correct plural" spelling depends on how the "singular" spelling is carried out in the first place.
      I like Chlié.

      But if it is determined a definite noun, it is pluralized by adding different ending, like the latin ending would be "ea" or other languages might might exchange the "e", for an "a" or "o".
      "If it is indefinite, it has no plural marker, and its plurality is determined by context." says one source.
      More thoughts are welcomed......

    2. In the US, spellings with one "l" are preferred: chile or chili (plural: chiles or chilis.) In the UK, Australia and some other English-speaking countries, two "l"'s are the norm: chilli and chillies. I'm not sure how Canadians spell the word.

      I don't think that people are confused by any of these spellings, but perhaps we could solve the problem by saying "pepper" instead, which many Americans already do. But of course, then some people would say that "pepper" is something else entirely: black/white pepper. Or we could go with the genus name, Capsicum, which is used in the UK, especially for bell peppers, but actually covers the full range of chil(l)i/es.

      4 Replies
      1. re: cheesemaestro

        As pointed out, here in the UK, it's chilli (and chile is only ever a country).

        "Pepper" is the condiment. We don't use "bell peppers" or "capsicums" but, for example, "green peppers".

        I hate laws about language threads - we have different words for foodstuffs in different parts of the UK and we're just a small island off the coast of northern Europe.

        1. re: Harters

          Indeed - perhaps even worse is the barbarous manner in which you folks pronounce things.

          1. re: Harters

            Sorry, I erred in thinking that the British say "capsicums." It's the Australians who use that word.

            Agreed that it is silly to expect that terminology, spelling or pronunciation can be standardized across the English-speaking world. There is no right or wrong. There is just what is accepted as proper usage in the area in which one lives.

            1. re: cheesemaestro

              Barbarous pronounciation? Barbarous? There is a reason why the language is called "English".

              And whereas cheesemaestro knows that you cannot "standardize", I also know that you cannot "standardise"

              LOL both counts.

          1. For the peppers, I prefer chile or chiles.
            Chili implies chili con carne
            Chilis is that restaurant chain.

            6 Replies
              1. re: dave_c

                I actually understood this to be pretty well settled.

                Chili is a spiced stew, e.g. chili con carne. Chili powder is a commercial spice blend commonly used in making the aforementioned stew.

                Chilies would be the plural of chili, as in “I went to the Chili Cook-Off today. I must have tried a dozen chilies. Do you have any antacid?”

                Chile is the pepper itself (a fruit actually). Chile powder is ground, dried chile.

                Chiles is the plural of chile, as in “I grew lots of chiles this summer, including habaneros, jalapenos, and Anaheims.”

                And, as dave noted Chilis is a chain where it is rare to get either chili or chiles.

                1. re: MGZ

                  Agreed - as far as the US is concerned. But once you cross the pond, all bets are off. As the Maestro points out, Brits and other Commonwealthers stick an extra "L" in the middle, and don't follow the other rules the same way we do.

                  1. re: BobB

                    Since chile peppers are a "New World" food find, the world should follow the US's lead on one L or two. :-D

                    1. re: dave_c

                      US spelling follows the Spanish, but the UK 'lli' better represents the common pronunciation according to standard English spelling rules. If you hadn't heard it first, wouldn't you pronounce 'chile' as 'chail' (1 syllable, silent 'e', long 'i')?

                  2. re: MGZ

                    The restaurant is called "Chili's", and of course they serve chili and chiles (but you're still free not to eat there, don't worry).

                2. but as cheesemaestro points out, there are different rules, depending on where you learned to spell.

                  Pedantic frustration aside, I think it's easier to just let people write it as they were taught...because I don't think there's really that much confusion as what the various posters mean.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: sunshine842

                    I can certainly accept leaving the number of Ls to the preference of the author. I, however, am not willing to condone the use of the wrong word altogether. Perhaps my stance is a bit donnish, but, after all, is feta all that far from fetid?

                    Besides, where would this site be without the pedants? "Of course it matters which sea the salt came from, damn it, that's crucial." "What do you mean you served the '97 with the lamb?" I could go on (seemingly endlessly, I'm afraid).

                    No, dear sunshine, pedanticism is an essential component of orthodox food geekery. Please don't take it from us.

                    1. re: MGZ

                      Since we're required to be pedants, it's not "pedanticism," it's "pedantry." :-)

                      1. re: MGZ

                        because while you're obsessing over what word they really mean (when you know fully well which word they mean), you've burned the chili, missed three phone calls from Chile, simmer has ended and it's gotten chilly....etc., etc., etc.

                        My point is that if the obsession here is about food geekery, then stick to the food and leave the grammatical and linguistic pedantry ;) to a grammar and linguistics board.

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          Aw, c'mon - for many of us out here, attention to detail permeates many aspects of our lives, not just food.

                          - Bob from Boston (where cheddar rhymes with feta).

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            As you can see from the comments herein, the deeply dogmatic require precision in all things food and drink. Just try asking how to make a martini.

                            Besides, the guys on the grammar and linguistics board make fun of me for always talking about food.