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Alternative formsEdit


From Portuguese malagueta, probably via Middle French malaguette, from Italian meleghetta, from Italian melega (millet) and -etta (forming diminutives), from Latin milium (millet).

There are various paths by which the name could have become applied to the African pepper. Medieval Latin melegeta was an Indonesian spice called after millet on the basis of the supposed resemblance of their grains. By the mid-15th century, the West African Grain Coast was known in Portuguese as costa da malagueta, whence the place name was borrowed into other languages and applied to its local products. Early English use reports that it was the local name of the spice, long preserved around Cape Palmas, which may indicate a Mande or Kwa origin, although such use is usually attributed to loanwords from Portuguese.

The unrelated Brazilian pepper acquired the name from its similar piquancy.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /maləˈɡɛtə/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˌmɑləˈɡweɪdə/, /ˌmɑləˈɡeɪdə/


malagueta (plural malaguetas)

  1. Synonym of grains of paradise, the seeds or seed capsules of the West African Aframomum melegueta; the plant itself.
    • 1568, Thomas Hacket, translating André Thevet as The New Found Worlde, or Antarctike, Wherein Is Contained Woderful and Strange Things, 26v:
      In Ginney the fruit that is most rife and common... is named Maniguetta.
    • 1863, Richard F. Burton, Wanderings in West Africa, volume II, Dover Publications 1991 edition, page 37:
      The people of the Gold Coast, when suffering from headache, rub over the forehead a paste of Malaguetta pepper.
    • 1931, Maud Grieve, A Modern Herbal, Vol. II, p. 628:
      Grains of Paradise, Guinea Grains, Melegueta or Mallaguetta Pepper, from Ampelopsis Grana Paradisi, or Habzeli of Ethiopia... Two kinds of these grains are known in the English markets, one plumper than the other... They resemble Pepper in their effects, but are seldom used except in veterinary practice and to give strength to spirits, wine, beer, and vinegar.
  2. The seeds or seed capsules of a Caribbean variety of Capsicum frutescens; the plant itself, now extensively grown in Brazil, Portugal, and Mozambique.
    • 1824, Hannibal Evans Lloyd, translating Johann Baptist von Spix & al. as Travels in Brazil in the Years 1817–1820, Vol. II, iv, ii, 260:
      Their seasoning is generally a berry of the Malaguetta, a variety of the Capsicum Gutescens.

Usage notesEdit

In reference to the African plant and seasoning, the spelling malagueta is more common in cooking and the spelling melegueta more common among botanists.

Derived termsEdit





malagueta f (plural malaguetas)

  1. Guinea pepper; grains of paradise; Aframomum melegueta
  2. malagueta (a very hot type of chilli)