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ESL forum > Ask for help > Corn or maize?    

Corn or maize?


Corn or maize?
Hi dear friends!
What ´s the difference between "corn" and "maize". I ´m sure there is...
Can we use both in all situations? I ´m sure we can ´t...
drop a line!

14 Feb 2017      


I looked the two words up in the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English and found out that in British English the two words are synonyms and they refer to plants such as oat, wheat and barley.
In American English, corn is a tall plant with large yellow seeds that grow together on a cob, which is cooked and eaten as a vegetable or fed to animals.
So basically, corn is not the same thing in British and American English but corn and maize can be used in the same situations in British English.
But maybe there is a difference that only a native speaker will be able to know. 

14 Feb 2017     

alien boy

Hi TMMF and jfaraujo,


I ´m afraid you ´ve got it back-to-front there jfaraujo. Maize is the plant from the Americas. It ´s from a native word that was adopted by the Spanish: Spanish maíz after Taíno mahiz.
Corn derives from Old English, and Proto-Germanic origins with the general meaning of "grain with the seed still in". This definition can apply to a wide variety of grains.
Maize was only introduced to Europe from the 16th century, so is a variety of ´corn ´ by the traditional definition of ´corn ´ in British English.

Sorry, half asleep while posting:

´Maize´ is specifically what many people know of as corn (corn kernels, popcorn kernels, these days usually yellow, but not always!)

´Corn´ can be either ´maize´ or can mean any other ´seed in grain´ like barleycorn, whole wheat, etc. Cornflour is not made from corn (maize) kernels, but from wheat (traditionally a ´corn´ in British English).

In North America maize & corn can be used interchangeably. In the UK, maize used to be used rather than corn when meaning the yellow kernels, while ´corn on the cob´ is used for the vegetable on the stalk.

14 Feb 2017     

United States

We call this   corn in AE when food shopping and dining. as jfaraujo said.
Dictionary.com  says that maize is used as a technical term and claims that maize is the BE word for Indian corn (as opposed to sweet corn)..  http://www.dictionary.com/browse/maize?s=t  However, American stores and Amazon.com sell cornmeal under the name maize meal, as well as ´corn meal ´ http://j.tinyurl.com/zsswmda Photo credit By Darwin Bell [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

14 Feb 2017     

United Kingdom

In my neck of the woods, we call them (picture posted by Mary) corn on the cob. When they are peeled off the cob, we call it sweet corn. We buy it in tins. 

15 Feb 2017     


In the US, I ´ve never ever heard anybody routinely refer to it as "maize".  I don ´t go to the store and buy maize.  Maize is generally reserved to speak about what was grown by native Americans. 
We have corn on the cob.  Whole kernel corn is corn that is removed from the cob with all of the kernel (each individual seed) in tact.
Creamed corn is corn that is removed from the cob in bits and pieces, with much of the corn liquid.  
Sweet corn, at least in the American south, is yellow, and does actually taste a little sweeter than white corn.  Sweet corn, for us, anyway, can be on the cob or not on the cob. It ´s about the taste, not the form.
White Silver Queen corn is white, not quite as sweet, a little chewier, not the same consistency as sweet corn (yellow) when cut off the cob.  
But nobody says "maize". Ever.  
(I ´m a southern girl a long way from the comfort foods of home. Can you tell?)  

16 Feb 2017     

United Kingdom

Have a look here:

5 Apr 2017