Corn? - Words For Maize

Words For Maize

The word maize derives from the Spanish form of the indigenous Taíno word for the plant, maiz. It is known by other names around the world.

Corn outside Canada and the United States means any cereal crop, its meaning understood to vary geographically to refer to the local staple. In Canada and the United States, "corn" primarily means maize; this usage started as a shortening of "Indian corn". "Indian corn" primarily means maize (the staple grain of indigenous Americans), but can refer more specifically to multicolored "flint corn" used for decoration.

Outside Canada and the United States, the word corn often refers to maize in culinary contexts. The narrower meaning is usually indicated by some additional word, as in sweet corn, corn on the cob, popcorn, corn flakes, baby corn.

In Southern Africa, maize is commonly called mielie (Afrikaans) or mealie (English).

Maize is preferred in formal, scientific, and international usage because it refers specifically to this one grain, unlike corn, which has a complex variety of meanings that vary by context and geographic region. However, in bulk-trading, people use "corn" only to refer to maize. Maize is used by agricultural bodies and research institutes such as the FAO and CSIRO. National agricultural and industry associations often include the word maize in their name even in English-speaking countries where the local, informal word is something other than maize; for example, the Maize Association of Australia, the Indian Maize Development Association, the Kenya Maize Consortium and Maize Breeders Network, the National Maize Association of Nigeria, the Zimbabwe Seed Maize Association.

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