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A hot, pungent powder made from various tropical chiles. The cayenne chile is a bright red chile that ranges from 2-5 inches long and about 1/2 inch in diameter. Cayenne chiles are generally sold dried and used in soups and sauces. The majority of cayenne chiles are used to make cayenne pepper. Used both in cooking and medicine, it owes its hot flavor to a chemical called capsaicin, which comprises about 12% of the chile. The word cayenne seems to come from kian, the name of a pepper among the Tupi Indians in what is now French Guiana and was named after either the Cayenne River or the capital of the country, Cayenne.