A spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark, or vegetable substance primarily used for flavoring, coloring or preserving food. Sometimes a spice is used to hide other flavors.
Spices are distinguished from herbs, which are parts of leafy green plants also used for flavoring or as garnish.
Many spices have antimicrobial properties. This may explain why spices are more commonly used in warmer climates, which have more infectious disease, and why use of spices is especially prominent in meat, which is particularly susceptible to spoiling.
A spice may have other uses, including medicinal, religious ritual, cosmetics or perfume production, or as a vegetable. For example, turmeric roots are consumed as a vegetable and garlic as an antibiotic.
adj. spic·i·er, spic·i·est
- Having the flavor, aroma, or quality of spice.
- Piquant; zesty: a spicy tomato sauce.
- Producing or abounding in spices.
- High-spirited; lively.
- Slightly scandalous; risqué: a spicy Hollywood romance.