English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I was reading on a food package that it contained seeds AND grains. I thought, aren't they the same thing?

I thougth for a second and it seems like the following are all the same thing:

Seed (as in apple)
Grain (as in wheat)
Nut (as in almond)
Kernel (as in corn)
Pit (as in olive)
Bean (as in fava/broad bean)

Aren't they all the same thing - seeds? Are there particular differences in meaning or etymology between them?

share|improve this question
Yes, there are actual differences. What did a dictionary or encyclopedia tell you when you looked them up? – Mark Beadles Nov 13 '12 at 3:11
Peaches and plums also have pits, which look remarkably like almonds, but which are not nuts. That should give you a lead. – tchrist Nov 13 '12 at 3:15
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Not sure this is a good question but basically they all refer to part or whole of a particular seed. Apples have pips. Bean can be the shelled or unshelled product or the whole plant. Kernel can also mean just the inner soft part of a seed where there is a hard shell. There's also "stone" and others. Grain can refer to the seed or the whole grain food group. All seeds can be further classified and disected to reveal more part names. I really don't understand where your question is going. The terms you mention have related but also specific meanings within biology and otherwise.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.