Herbs & Spices Vocabulary

Herbs & Spices Vocabulary

To begin with, what is herb and what is spice? What is the difference between them?

According to Wikipedia, herbs are plants with savory or aromatic properties that are used for flavoring and garnishing food, in medicine, or as fragrances.  And spices are seeds, fruits, roots, bark or other plant substance primarily used for flavoring, coloring or preserving food. Thus, unlike spices, herbs can be used not only in cooking. Mind that a plant can be host to both a herb and a spice at the same time (according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac). For example, coriander can be considered both a herb and a spice.

As the purpose of this post is to help you enlarge your English vocabulary, we won’t include the same word in both tables below if some herb/spice can be put in both categories.


Although there are dozens, if not hundreds, of herbs used in different parts of the world, we’ve selected some of the most common ones for the table below:

Herb Picture Example
Basil [‘bæzl] basil-herbs-green-mediterranean-40720 Add oil, salt and basil, and stir.
Bay leaf [ˈbeɪ ˌliːf] 417SSI9Sk-L Bay leaves offer us a healthy dose of vitamin C.
Caraway [‘kærəweɪ] seeds spices-caraway-garden-eat-390731 Caraway seeds are typically used to add a sweet, earthy flavor to a variety dishes.
Chive [ʧaɪv] chives-2500-56a20fbd3df78cf7727186c6 Chives are a nutrient [‘njuːtrɪənt]-dense food.
Cilantro [sɪ’lɑːntrəu] pexels-photo-606537 They say cilantro protects against cardiovascular [ˌkɑːdɪəu’væskjulə] disease.
Dill [dɪl] flowers-summer-garden-yellow Dill is a good source of calcium [‘kælsɪəm].
Fennel [‘fen(ə)l] fennel-vegetables-fennel-bulb-food-159471 Fennel improves skin health.
Garlic [‘gɑːlɪk] pexels-photo-928251 Consuming garlic helps to lower cholesterol [kə’lest(ə)rɔl] levels.
Lavender [‘læv(ə)ndə] pexels-photo-286763 Lavender oil can help to heal bug bites.
Lemon grass Health-Benefits-of-Lemongrass Lemon grass can be used for treating stomachache.
Marjoram [‘mɑːʤ(ə)rəm] c-291-marjoram Marjoram contains various compounds that have effective antibacterial [ˌæntɪbæk’tɪərɪəl] properties.
Mint [mɪnt] mint-green-mint-plant-herbal-plant-159212 Mint is a calming and soothing herb.
Oregano [ˌɔrɪ’gɑːnəu] pexels-photo-977903 Oregano is great for immune system support.
Parsley [‘pɑːslɪ] pexels-photo-105028 They say parsley helps reduce bad breath.
Rosemary [‘rəuzm(ə)rɪ] pexels-photo-135168 Rosemary tastes good in many culinary dishes.
Sage [seɪʤ] download Sage is commonly used for [daɪ’ʤestɪv] digestive problems.
Sesame [‘sesəmɪ] sesameseeds.jpg Sesame seeds are so good for health!
Sorrel [‘sɔr(ə)l] VESOR27220_3 Sorrel regulates blood pressure.
Tarragon [‘tærəgən] VETAR27219_3.jpg Tarragon is commonly used in French cooking.
Thyme [taɪm] thyme Thyme essential oil is often used as a natural cough [kɔf] remedy.

Now, let’s spice up your English even more…


Spice Picture Example
Cardamon [‘kɑːdəməm] (cardamom) 16.png Cardamon is very strong and aromatic.
Cinnamon [‘sɪnəmən] cinnamon-stick-cinnamon-powder-spice-flavoring-47046 Cinnamon is one of the most delicious spices.
Clove [kləuv] cloves-2-620x4121.jpg Cloves temporarily treat a toothache.
Cumin [‘kjuːmɪn ], [‘kʌmɪn] cumin-powder-on-spoon-and-cumin-seeds-spilling-from-a-jar.jpg Cumin treats insomnia.
Ginger [‘ʤɪnʤə] ginger-plant-asia-rhizome-161556 Possible health benefits of ginger include relieving nausea, loss of appetite, motion sickness, and pain.
Nutmeg [‘nʌtmeg] Everything-You-Ever-Wanted-To-Know-About-Nutmeg.jpg Nutmeg oil has been used in dentistry for toothache relief.
Paprika [‘pæprɪkə] paprika-sad-food-veggie-161019 Paprika is good for eye health.
Turmeric [‘tɜːm(ə)rɪk] tumeric-powder-root-1296x728 Turmeric has been used in Chinese and Indian medicine for millennia.
Chili [‘ʧɪlɪ] pepper [‘pepə] chili-red-sharp-spice-42259 Chili contains up to seven times the vitamin C level of an orange.
Black pepper sw_gabriela2blupu I use black pepper every day.
Vanilla [və’nɪlə] extract [‘ekstrækt] pexels-photo-1071015 Vanilla extract may naturally reduce fever.
Wasabi [wə’sɑːbɪ] grated+wasabi+agrodirect.jpg The health benefits of wasabi include providing a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease.

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