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jaytkay's avatar

By region/country, what is the primary meaning of "corn"?

Asked by jaytkay (25767points) September 15th, 2010

In the US, corn means maize. There is no question what plant is involved when people say “corn”.

In books I see it used as “our primary food grain”, usually wheat. But I read a lot of history, so I think this might have changed.

What is “corn” for English speakers in the UK, Canada, S Asia, Australia, New Zealand, elsewhere.

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11 Answers

MissAnthrope's avatar

I had a Plant and Soil Science class with an 80-something-year-old Irishman who would often get onto random tangents, not to mention he was adorable and pronounced ‘potato’ as ‘buh-day-doe’. Anyway,one of his tangents involved the different naming conventions for corn in the US and the UK. He told us that they call it ‘maize’ in the UK and wheat is called ‘corn’. I guess the British have a history of referring to cereal grains as ‘corn’.

ETpro's avatar

Corn literally means the food grain of the land. It is whatever is the number one grain produced in a given area. Few today know that maize was originally a short, grain bearing grass and that what we recognize today in the USA as corn is a very heavily modified cultivar of that original maize that the Indians introduced European explorers to. We have bread it for size and grain yield, and for sugar production. It doesn’t even taste remotely like the original maize. It’s far tastier, thank goodness.

Obviously, when the Bible speaks of gathering in the corn it isn’t talking about maize, which was completely unknown in the Middle East of Moses’ day. In Egypt and much Africa and Asia, corn refers to rice. In other areas to wheat.

GingerMinx's avatar

I was born and live in New Zealand, I am 48, corn has always been that lovely yellow vegetable on a cob that goes so well with melted butter. I have never called it maize, although I have heard the word, and I have never called wheat, corn.

The_Idler's avatar

In the UK, corn refers to the grain of any cereal crop.
Whole maize is “Corn on the cob”. the bits on their own are called “sweetcorn”
Maize is nowhere near as common in the UK as in the new world.

Saying “corn”, in a agricultural context, you’re probably referring to wheat, as that is, and always was, the primary crop of England.
But, like I said, it could be referring to any of the cereal crops; wheat, barley, oats, etc.

“Corn” is referring to the actual grain, not the plant.

zen_'s avatar

In Canada it’s the same as what @GingerMinx said.

Mat74UK's avatar

@The_Idler – You’ve summed it up perfectly there.

NaturallyMe's avatar

In South Africa, corn refers to maize only, as far as i know.

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

maize. I’m from the U.S.

bea2345's avatar

@ETpro, much thanks. This for you (it’s from Trinidad): “Corn” has another meaning as in, “My, the corn is high tonight.” The adjectival form, “corny” is US, I think..

ETpro's avatar

Ha! Interesting. Corny is a much more efficient way of saying it, but the Trinadad phrase sonds like it would better deter corny behavior.

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