Chile on eggs?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Jul 12 13:37:55 UTC 2001

At 7:31 PM -0400 7/12/01, Douglas G. Wilson wrote:
>"Chiles": some discussion at
>I guess Mexican "chile" [< Nahuatl] = South American "ají" [< Taino] =
>Spanish Spanish "pimiento" or so ... in English "chili" (usually), also
>"chile", "chilli".
>The nation-name "Chile" is said to < Mapuche "chilli" = "land's end" or so.
>(There are also other stories, I think.)
>-- Doug Wilson

AHD4 takes "chili" as basic and gives the etymology as "Spanish
chile, from Nahuatl chilli", while the OED takes both "chile" and
"chili" to be variants of "chilli", a spelling not as widely
encountered on this side of the pond (North or South America) these
days as far as I know, but evidently corresponding to the earliest
transliterations of the Nahuatl.  The OED entry does have a wonderful
line from Vanity Fair (the book, not the magazine)--poor Becky:

1848 Thackeray Van. Fair iii. (1853) 18 `Try a chili with it, Miss
Sharp', said Joseph, really interested. `A chili', said Rebecca,
gasping; `oh yes!'  She thought a chili was something cool, as its
name imported.

If anything, contrary to the earlier posting today, I've mostly seen
the Tex-Mex concoction spelled "chili (con carne)" rather than
"chile"--this is another nice transfer of meaning (like the "stove"
example Beverly was just mentioning), from the capsicum peppers to
the stew originally spiced with it to the stew itself, often with no
trace of capsicum (check out Dinty Moore's or Hormel's renderings).
On the other hand, chile con queso I've only seen spelled that way,
never "chili", and it does have the pepper prominently featured.  And
as Steve Boatti was saying, chile rellenos never appear as "chili
rellenos" in any menu listing or recipe I've seen.   That's
consistent, of course, with "chile" being the Mexican Spanish
version, and "chili (con carne)" not being an authentic Mexican dish.
In "chili peppers," "chili powder", and other English locutions, the
-i spelling predominates.


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