When asking my question here I said I wasn't sure what tags I should use.

I then found my use of the word "chillis" renamed to "chiles" by someone.

To me (British FYI), "chile" looks like is pronounced like the words "pile" or "stile", but not as expected like the words "chilly" or "hilly". I realise this is the spelling of the country Chile, but still at first glance it looks wrong.

So, thought I'd raise the point for discussion.

What Wiktionary Thinks

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/chilli (given as "non-US")
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/chili (given as "US")
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/chile (given as "US Regional")

Current Tags (Updated as someone just created the [chili] tag)

[chilli] - 5
[chili] - 1
[chiles] - 5

  • I'd also like to point out, for the record, that only one out of the mentioned 6 questions tagged either [chilli] or [chili] is actually about the peppers. See for yourself. That is simply not a good tag for the peppers. It creates confusion where there needn't be any. – Aaronut Aug 18 '10 at 23:26
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    ::hangs head in shame:: I've been really careful about doing Google searches before correcting spelling, to be sure the "misspelling" is not a valid variant. Someone had re-tagged a question of mine "chile" when it was about hot peppers, and I similarly re-tagged this one. I'm sorry about that! Lesson learned. – JustRightMenus Aug 19 '10 at 1:05
  • @Aaronut, a vital good point. And I get the feeling that a conclusion is now being reached? With the singular being the dish, and a pluralisation of a different spelling being the fruit? – DMA57361 Aug 19 '10 at 10:50
  • If you want to use the plural [chilies]/[chillies] for the fruit, go ahead, it won't be confused with chili con carne or any other chili dish. It's going to be less-commonly-used than [chiles], though, so questions with either of the former tags may get retagged, or if not, a synonym will be created (which is equivalent to retagging anyway). – Aaronut Aug 19 '10 at 15:50
  • @Aaronut I'm leaving my post as it is now - no point messing around with. And don't have the rep to vote on the synonyms, but I think having all the singular and all the plural spellings being together in two groups makes sense. – DMA57361 Aug 19 '10 at 16:14
  • 'chiles' ? There's more than one? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chile – Joe Aug 19 '10 at 16:36
  • @Joe: Similar rule. The singular [chile] would apply to the region. The plural [chiles] would apply to the peppers. – Aaronut Aug 19 '10 at 17:31

I (also UK) am also finding it strange seeing the word chiles. It just looks like a typo. Is it American? I've been online for many many years and thought I was familiar with all the Americanism in cooking: eggplant, cups and jello. Never seen chiles before.

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    Well "chiles" is completely new to me too, which is why I thought to raise this question. PS: Glad someone agree's that it looks strange. :) – DMA57361 Aug 18 '10 at 13:38
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    It's actually the proper Spanish nomenclature – hobodave Aug 18 '10 at 14:21
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    @hobodave - That seems to be true from what I've found, but this site is primarily in English. – DMA57361 Aug 18 '10 at 14:28
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    @DMA: The site may be in English but the ingredient comes from South/Central America. If we're going to choose a primary tag, I can only think of two sensible ways to do it: 1) Use the original, region-specific name (like pets de nonne or bangers and mash) or use the name that will be recognized by the largest audience (i.e., North Americans). Take your pick; in the case of chili, both happen to be the same. I'm from Canada, but I don't expect anybody else to tag questions about back bacon as "peameal", and I don't get my knickers in a knot when I hear it referred to as "Canadian bacon." – Aaronut Aug 18 '10 at 23:52
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    it seems weird to me to, like a typo, and just makes me think of Adrian Chiles which is always a bad thing, but I have to agree that we should go with the majority and have synonyms. I've got used to broiler meaning grilling, grilling meaning barbecuing etc. unless there is going to be a reason to have a series of questions about Adrian Chiles its easiest then just go with that. You could maybe requesta a feature to allow users to specify which synonym of a tag is visible to them, but I doubt that would go anywhere... – Sam Holder Aug 20 '10 at 8:08
  • +1 @DMA57361 - took the words right out of my mouth! – Nick Sep 2 '10 at 16:57
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    @hobodave: Depends on which Spanish are you talking. "Chile" is mainly and mostly Mexican (which is the Central and North American term, coming from the nahua people). In Chile and Argentina you say "ají" (which is the mostly South American term). In Spain, you usually say "guindilla". – Vinko Vrsalovic Sep 2 '10 at 23:25

I've done a search-for-it-on-Google-test, results are in millions of matches.

Round 1

chilli  11.9  
chili   35.9  
chile  235.0  

Chile seems to be the runaway winner. However, this does not account for whether these matches are talking about the pepper or a dish (e.g. chil(l?i|e) con carne) and not, for example, the country Chile. So, lets extend the test further.

Round 2

+chilli +(pepper OR peppers)   1.71
+chili +(pepper OR peppers)   15.6
+chile +(pepper OR peppers)    0.583

Again, we seem to have a winner. But this time, we have another problem - the band "Red Hot Chili Peppers" are coming up in many matches and skewing the results again. We need to filter them out as well.

Round 3

+chilli +(pepper OR peppers) -red-hot-chili-peppers  1.84
+chili +(pepper OR peppers) -red-hot-chili-peppers   1.68
+chile +(pepper OR peppers) -red-hot-chili-peppers   4.1

Well. This just makes things worse. Chile, and to a lesser extent Chilli, magically gain more matches. Helpful. I think Google is trying to help too much. Time to be pendantic.

Round 4

0.806  +chilli +(pepper OR peppers) -red-hot-chili-peppers -red-hot-chilli-peppers -red-hot-chile-peppers
1.69   +chili +(pepper OR peppers) -red-hot-chili-peppers -red-hot-chilli-peppers -red-hot-chile-peppers
0.563  +chile +(pepper OR peppers) -red-hot-chili-peppers -red-hot-chilli-peppers -red-hot-chile-peppers

Right. Now I think we're getting somewhere!

Given these tests it looks like chili is in front. Obviously, whether that means it corresponds to the communities needs or not is another question entirely. Plus, it's a shame really, I was hoping chilli would win. ;)

Result so far: Leaning towards Chili

  • the ambiguity with the first set (round 1) is that you are still talking in millions of records. also i am wondering what the results would be of google sampling vs sampling of the sites audience/participants and the difference between their usage/nomenclature. good testing though. – mfg Aug 18 '10 at 14:27
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    Awesome. I do love the geekiness that this site brings to cooking. I assume this is largely the initial SOFU influenced audience. – yossarian Aug 18 '10 at 15:53
  • As stated previously, rounds 2-4 are effectively irrelevant because they need to be combined with the word [pepper(s)], and we don't split tags! If you want to create a [chili-peppers] tag, go ahead, although it'll probably be made a synonym of the already-existing [chiles]. But please do not tag these questions [chili] because that has another meaning. There's even a question that's tagged [chiles] and [chili], and both are relevant. – Aaronut Aug 18 '10 at 16:01
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    Firstly: this should be taken with a large dose of scepticism! 2nd: They're not entirely irrelevant (just mostly) - as this (sort of) finds all the uses of the word when it is being used to refer to a chilli pepper, which is what the question was about. Whether the tag eventually ends up in the form [chilies] or [chili-peppers] and/or what synonyms end up being used are just semantics really. – DMA57361 Aug 18 '10 at 16:25
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    Wow ... what a completely worthless test. They're DIFFERENT CONCEPTS, not just different spellings. (one's a country!) And you didn't even test the english name of the fruit that we're talking about. IF you want to look up the spelling of words like 'fuchsia', use a dictionary, not the collective stupidity of people posting on the internet : blog.xkcd.com/2010/05/03/color-survey-results – Joe Aug 19 '10 at 17:00
  • One way around the ambiguities is to standardize on plural tags for countable nouns and singlular for mass nouns. That way chiles, chilis, or chillis will be for the peppers; and chile, chili, or chilli would be for the dish made of beans and stuff... or just include a disambiguating term in the tag. – hippietrail Sep 15 '11 at 21:38
  • See also: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chili_pepper & en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Chili_pepper – user10545 Jan 20 '14 at 0:31

"Chili" and "chilli" are terms used by themselves refer to the dishes. You're going to confuse people if you use them to refer to the peppers.

The rule of thumb for tags is that you never split them. You could add a [chili-peppers] tag if you want, but don't use [chili]+[peppers]. Anyway, [chiles] is clearly the more popular tag referring to the peppers; if that's really confusing to a lot of people (hasn't come up so far) then we'll just add a tag synonym mapping [chili-peppers] and [chilli-peppers] to [chiles].

For now, I'm just going to retag it [chiles].

  • cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/… proposed synonyms – hobodave Aug 18 '10 at 15:06
  • Chili and Chilli are also used to refer to the pepper. For example the Wikipedia page is titled "Chili" and "Chilli" is very common British usage (try the BBC Recipes site and stick in "Chilli", for example). As for confusing people, before my question I'd never seen the spelling chiles - so it's not that straight forward. – DMA57361 Aug 18 '10 at 15:15
  • @DMA: Those words are used in combination with the second word "pepper", and you don't split tags. Did you read the second paragraph of this answer? Tagging a question about chili peppers [chili]+[pepper] would not be much different from tagging a question about slow-cookers [slow]+[cooking]. – Aaronut Aug 18 '10 at 15:18
  • @Aaronut I realise that - But this question isn't about splitting tags, it's about the use of chilli/chili/chile. My original Q on the parent indirectly had this as point in my first comment (and until you fixed it was wrong) - but I did that because there was not a -pepper tag, just using [chilli] for some reason didn't feel accurate, and I didn't feel as though I should create a -pepper tag myself - so I raised the point in my comment for more reputable and active users to handle as appropriate. – DMA57361 Aug 18 '10 at 15:28
  • @DMA: Exactly; there was no [chili-peppers] tag, and you should favour using existing tags over creating new ones, and we already had a [chiles] tag. Either of those two would be valid, but [chili] is not because the term, by itself, refers to the dish, not the pepper. We can't add [chili] as a synonym for [chiles] because the former actually means something entirely different. – Aaronut Aug 18 '10 at 15:43
  • @Aaronut Yes, but before someone edited my question I didn't know what "chiles" were - so intentionally avoided that tag - and (to me) "chilli" refers to both the dish and the pepper, hence me feeling the need to elaborate. – DMA57361 Aug 18 '10 at 16:15
  • @DMA: I understand all of that. I'm not criticizing you. I'm just stating how I believe that these questions should be tagged. [chili] may be refer to the pepper, but only when paired with the word "pepper", which implies at least a hyphenated tag, which we would just end up making a synonym for [chiles]. Do you still disagree with that? – Aaronut Aug 18 '10 at 21:26
  • @Aaronut: You say "Chili and chilli are terms used by themselves refer to the dishes". But you're still only talking about the USA. In the UK they are used for both the dish and the fruit. Nobody but you is talking about splitting tags. – Tea Drinker Aug 18 '10 at 22:43
  • @Tea Drinker: You're telling me that in the UK they use the term "chili", by itself, unpluralized, to refer to chili peppers? I don't believe you. Show me. I have never seen any cookbook or read any web site from any part of the world that does this. "Chili" by itself always means... well, chili. And even if it is used that way for some bizarre reason, you've still just admitted it's ambiguous - why not use an unambiguous tag instead? – Aaronut Aug 18 '10 at 23:22
  • You can use "chilli" without "pepper", but I think it will be unlikely to find without a colour or variety instead (eg "red chilli"), so I think you're likely right about the use of "chilli" for the fruit when unqualified (althought maybe in recipe names, like "chilli prawns" or something?). So, I agree with @Aaronut on using the singlar spelling for the dish (as it's much less common to use the plural spelling - you don't serve "chillis", you serve "some chilli" or "bowls of chilli") and a plural (or hypernated) version for the fruit. – DMA57361 Aug 19 '10 at 11:28
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    @aar joe just re-tagged a post of mine with "Chilies" to refer to multiple peppers and i find that agreeable. Does it make sense as a reference to the peppers and stay within the parameters of a) having a plural tag when possible and b) having a distinction between the fruit and the dish? – mfg Aug 19 '10 at 18:39

If confronted with two tags, "CHILES" vs "CHILI" people would find the two as distinguishable; otherwise there are a plethora of ambiguities to pull someone in the other directions. I could be wrong that CHILES is a sufficiently common usage, but to see CHILLI (ie CHILI CON CARNE) i would expect people to know (in spite of the deviant spelling) that's a reference to the dish and not the fruit. It could also be done as CHILI-PEPPER vs CHILI


Using the proper terminology for a tag is best IMO. If the British are more comfortable with chilli they can use that in the title/body. Synonyms will take care of the tag.

BTW, chilli fails spell check, at least in America.

  • +1 the tags need a synonym of some type, it doesn't really matter which (that's the magic of the synonynms) - and restricting peoples use in posts is a bad idea (and wasn't my intention for this post!). Also "Chili" is auto-corrected to "Chilli" by Word's spell-checker here (UK), it accepts "Chiles". – DMA57361 Aug 18 '10 at 15:21
  • Adding [chili] or [chilli] (with or without the "s" at the end) as a synonym for [chiles] would be a bad idea. What if somebody has a question about chili? [chilies] or [chillies] both at least pass the spell check - if anything, they should be the synonyms. – Aaronut Aug 18 '10 at 15:47
  • I agree. You don't refer to the dish in the plural ("I served some chillies" would be interpreted as you handing out peppers, no?) but I think plurality is common use for ingredients. – DMA57361 Aug 18 '10 at 16:19
  • you're absolutely right chilli does fail spell check, but you'll see chilly and all kinds of bizarre derivatives and i guess i should have used (sic), but also note the correct usage when paired with "-con carne". thats the whole balance i was trying to strike if that makes sense. – mfg Aug 19 '10 at 18:35
  • @hobodave: Even in America there is more than one spellchecker. MS Word has one, Open Office has one, various web browsers have their own, and so on. There is no national spellchecker standards body so they are all a bit different from each other. (-: – hippietrail Sep 15 '11 at 21:46

Worthy of tags:

  • Chilies are the fruit of the capsicum family.
  • Chili is a dish made with chilies and ground meat.

Not worthy of tags, most likely typos:

  • Chile is country in South America.
  • Chilli is a member of singing group TLC
  • Chiles is a volcano in Ecuador

update :

I admit, I hadn't seen the 'chilli' and 'chiles' in use before as an intended spelling, however, the issue is more than just spelling variants -- there's the issue of homonyms when you're selecting tags; "chile" is a bad choice as a preferred term because someone might assume it references chilean cooking. (turkey's a problem term for the same reason). You should select terms that are unambiguous, so there isn't the assumption that they're typos. From the Getty Introduction to Controlled Vocabularies (section 7.4.1, "Establishing Terms") :

Criteria in choosing terms should include the elimination of ambiguity and the control of synonyms. Vocabularies should eliminate the ambiguity that occurs in natural language, including the ambiguity surrounding homographs. Homographs are words or terms that share the same spelling. A homograph may be a homonym or a polyseme. Homonyms have different meanings and unrelated origins, whereas polysemes are usually considered to have multiple meanings.

When we have homographs, attempts to do word counts are useless -- you have to go through and audit the findings to verify how the term was used, and if it had the concept you were looking for.

In my quick survey of occurances 'chilli', besides the issue of it being polysemous (having more than one meaning -- both the dish and the fruit), I found another issue -- when used for the fruit, it tends to be part of a compound term -- 'chilli pepper'. We should be careful about using fragments as tags.

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    Did you just do a mass retag on what is clearly a valid/accepted spelling, and change it to a tag that's never been used on the site before? Or was that somebody else? I really don't think that anybody would have confused [chiles] with the volcano, which would clearly have nothing to do with a cooking site. – Aaronut Aug 19 '10 at 17:37
  • @Aaronut : yes, I did remove the misspelled tag, and correct those entries that had it. I suspect that someone initially misspelled the tag, and everyone just assumed it was correct, as in at least one case, the question itself had it spelled correctly : cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/5081/… – Joe Aug 19 '10 at 18:24
  • @Joe You've posted numerous comments across the posts here that basically saying any other spelling is wrong. Wikipedia identifies all three, so does Wiktionary (see question) and so do other users here. Just announcing that "everyone else is wrong" is just dismissive of the international nature of the internet and extremely rude. Chilli is an valid British spelling, and Chile is claimed to be a valid US spelling by other users and other places. – DMA57361 Aug 19 '10 at 18:35
  • good job with the plural being the solution: @dma how do the other variations pluralize the word? – mfg Aug 19 '10 at 18:41
  • @mfg I would expect Chillies, Chilies and Chiles (or Chilli peppers, Chili peppers and Chile peppers). However, I'd only use the first personally as that's my local spelling. FYI - using the plural has been suggested by @Aaronut in comments in various other places on this thread, and it definately makes sense to use plural for peppers and singular for the dish with regards to tags. I reckon all three singluar and all three plural spellings would be best in synonym groups. – DMA57361 Aug 19 '10 at 18:51
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    As long as our master tag is unambiguous, I'm fine with it and don't really care enough to argue about which one we actually use - but "chiles" is not a misspelling. Please check next time to make sure that you're not just seeing a spelling you're not used to (in this case, it's really quite a common spelling found in many recipe books). – Aaronut Aug 19 '10 at 20:19
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    @Joe I don't think it was at all appropriate for you to turn all of the chiles tags into chilies – hobodave Aug 20 '10 at 9:15
  • @hobodave : I don't think it was appropriate for someone to have created the master synonym 'chiles' immediately after this question was posted without there being a chance for discussion. – Joe Aug 26 '10 at 2:56
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    Re: Your edit. The tag was [chiles], not [chile], and the former is very unlikely to be mistaken for Chilean cooking. [chilies] is actually more likely to be mistaken as the plural of [chili], the dish. Both are honestly pretty unlikely to get confused as long as the tag is pluralized, which is why I said I don't care enough to belabor the point; nevertheless, [chilies] doesn't improve at all on [chiles] in terms of reducing ambiguity. – Aaronut Aug 26 '10 at 4:58
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    @Joe: Um, [chiles] was in place already and was the most prominent occurence of the options. I suggested the tag synonyms as permitted by the system. It was available for voting, as intended by the system. Suggesting anything else as the primary was not possible because they were not the majority occurrence. Your edit just went across the board and changed that. – hobodave Aug 26 '10 at 7:08
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    @Joe: And the whole Chile vs chile argument is silly, the standard has already been established that national cuisines are formatted like [chinese-cuisine], [turkish-cuisine], [mexican-cuisine], etc. The tag we'd use there would be [chilean-cuisine]. – hobodave Aug 26 '10 at 7:10
  • I used the tools provided us to allow the community to vote, and you just went over everyones head and did what you wanted. – hobodave Aug 26 '10 at 7:10
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    @Joe: The whole point of synonyms is that it doesn't really matter what is the master tag. I think you should hop into the moderator chat sometime so we can discuss how tag synonyms work. Our previous discussion on the topic indicate to me that you're really not understanding what they are, or how they are intended to work. – hobodave Aug 26 '10 at 7:16

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