What does Spice mean in BookTok?

Sexual content

On BookTok, a popular term you might come across is “spice”. This term is used to signal that a book includes some sizzling, sexually explicit parts. BookTok users often talk about a book’s “spice level” – a rating that indicates just how steamy the content is, on a scale from 0 to 5, or from mild to hot. The higher a book’s spice level, the more Not Safe For Work (NSFW) it is.

You’ll also notice that alongside the word “spice” or “spicy”, many BookTok users include the hot pepper emoji in their video captions or descriptions. This fiery emoji acts as a visual shorthand for the book’s spice level. The more hot pepper emojis you see, the more risqué and explicit the book being discussed probably is.

So, when you’re scrolling through BookTok and you see someone mention a book’s “spice” or “spicy” content, or you spot a bunch of hot pepper emojis, you’ll now know they’re talking about the book’s sexually explicit content. Be prepared for some heated reading!

Example for using ‘Spice’ in a conversation

Just finished reading that new romance novel. It had some 🔥🌶️ scenes!

Oh, really? How spicy was it? 🌶️🌶️

I’d say it was a solid 🌶️🌶️🌶️. Definitely not for the faint of heart!

Wow, that’s pretty hot! I’ll have to give it a try. Thanks for the recommendation!