The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







A plate of sweetcorn
A plate of sweetcorn

Corn is a term that applies to any staple food grain—that is, a fruit of a plant in the Grass Family (Poaceae). Originally, the term referred to the kernel of any grain; for instance, barleycorn. In various English-speaking countries, the term is generally used for a particular grain. Thus:

  • In North America and Australia, corn means maize. Usage as a generic term for grain has been lost. Common segments include:
    • Sweetcorn, a hybridised variety of maize with a high sugar content. (This is the variety found in supermarkets and roadside stands).
    • Popcorn Selected varieties of corn that will explode when heated.
    • Field corn, once described as roasting ears. The kernels can be left on the cob or removed and boiled and eaten. The kernels can also be removed and processed as hominy, grits, samp , corn meal, corn starch, corn syrup. Mostly grown as a feed crop for cattle and other livestock.
    • The term corn is also used to refer to maize in various food products made from maize such as cornbread, corn meal, corn dog etc.
  • In England, corn means wheat, although the word often retains its generic meaning there.
  • In Scotland, corn may refer to oats.

Candy corn is a soft candy shaped somewhat like a maize kernel.

A corn can also be a callus—a horny or hardened place on the human skin, most often occurring on the foot. This hardening extends into the subcutaneous layers of the skin and can become tender or painful.

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