Paprika is a spice made from ground, dried fruits of Capsicum annuum, either bell pepper or chili pepper varieties or mixtures thereof. The seasoning is used in many cuisines to add color and flavor to dishes, but it is usually associated with Hungary. It is also used in Greece, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Morocco, and also Spain, and Portugal, the latter countries having introduced capsicum annuum to the Old World from the Americas. The use of this plant rapidly expanded from Iberia throughout Africa and Asia and ultimately reached Central Europe through the Balkans which were under Ottoman rule, explaining the Slavic origin of the modern English term. In Spanish, Paprika has been known as Pimenton since the 1500s, when it became a typical ingredient of the western region of Extremadura. Despite its presence in Central Europe since the beginning of Ottoman conquests, it did not become popular in Hungary much more than one hundred years ago.
Central European paprika was hot until the 1920s, when a Szeged breeder found one plant that produced sweet fruit. This was grafted onto other plants. Nowadays, paprika can range from mild to hot, and flavors also vary from country to country, but almost all the plants grown produce the sweet variety. The sweet paprika is mostly pericarp with more than half of the seeds removed, whereas hot paprika contains some seeds, placentas, calyxes, and stalks.
In many European languages, but not in English, the word paprika also or only refers to the Capsicum fruit itself.