In North America, "corn" refers to the crop some call "maize", Zea mays mays. I'm told that this is the meaning of "corn" in Australia and New Zealand as well.

Contrarily, in the British Isles, "corn" refers to other grains, especially the primary grain of the area, be it wheat, oats, or any other grain.

What does "corn" refer to in Asian varieties of English, as in India and Singapore?

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    I think that for most British people today who do not live in farming communities, the old (British) meaning of "corn" has pretty well gone, because it refers to something outside their experience and knowledge. I suspect that if you asked most British children - and indeed many adults - what "corn" means in "The sheep's in the meadow, the cow's in the corn" they would either not know, or think it was maize.
    – Colin Fine
    Jan 9, 2016 at 1:02

2 Answers 2


Speaking for my (Indian) family alone, we use it to refer to Zea mays convar. saccharata var. rugosa, or sweet corn. However, I like Wikipedia's phrasing, too:

"In places outside North America, Australia, and New Zealand, corn often refers to maize in culinary contexts. The narrower meaning is usually indicated by some additional word, as in sweet corn, sweetcorn, corn on the cob, popcorn, corn flakes, baby corn." (ref)

The term "maize" is also used in India (e.g. Maize In India report published by the FICCI, Maize production growing faster in India on higher demand published by Business Today). It might be more likely to refer to the crop than the food, but I'm not sure about that.


To my 11-year Singlish ears, the word corn always refers to sweet corn or kernels used for cooking. The word maize is more generic than corn and it might include various kinds of corn. Also, maize could be used when referring to the plant itself, but corn couldn't. Maize is less broadly used than corn.

According to Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), the world's largest commodity exchange, there are products called Corn Futures and Corn Options, but there is no Maize Futures or Maize Options. The reason is corn is a specific agricultural product that could be classified/identified/standardized as one commodity so that it could be traded, but maize is not.

The below picture is an image of corn traded in CME.

enter image description here

[Wikipedia, CME Group]

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