Corn
Posted: 05 November 2011 02:56 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Thought I may have asked this before, but if so, can’t find.

Various references indicate that the use of the word “corn” is used in the UK to refer to grains generally (oats, barley), not just maize.

Is this information current?

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Posted: 05 November 2011 03:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Yes, the OED includes these two usage notes under corn n.1:

As a general term the word includes all the cereals, wheat, rye, barley, oats, maize, rice, etc., and, with qualification (as black corn, pulse corn), is extended to leguminous plants, as pease, beans, etc., cultivated for food. Locally, the word, when not otherwise qualified, is often understood to denote that kind of cereal which is the leading crop of the district; hence in the greater part of England ‘corn’ is = wheat n., in North Britain and Ireland = oats; in the U.S. the word, as short for Indian corn n., is restricted to maize.

Wheat, rye, barley, oats, etc. are in U.S. called collectively grain. Corn- in combinations, in American usage, must therefore be understood to mean maize, whereas in English usage it may mean any cereal; e.g. a cornfield in England is a field of any cereal that is grown in the country, in U.S. one of maize.

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Posted: 05 November 2011 06:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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There’s an interesting parallel in Russian жито [zhito], which means ‘rye’ in Ukraine and southern Russia, ‘barley’ in northern Russia, and spring-sown cereals in general in eastern Russia.  (It’s related to Irish biathaim ‘I feed [someone],’ for you etymology fans.)

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Posted: 05 November 2011 11:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Dutch has two collective words for cereals which are used more or less synonymous. ‘Koren’ (indigenous, older ‘korn’) and ‘graan’ (borrowed via French from L. ‘granum’). Both words are from the same PIE root BTW.

Also related is Dutch ‘korrel’ (grain (itself also related of course)), from an older diminutive ‘kornel’. That makes ‘graankorrel’ an interesting word from an etymological perspective.

Corn (the plant from the Americas) is called ‘mais’ here.

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Posted: 05 November 2011 02:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Yes, Afrikaans says “koring” for corn, “graan” for grain (any type) and “korrels/korreltjies” grains (of anything), and South African English calls corn starch “maizena” from maize (+ -i/ena as in semolina), (known in SA as “mielies"), which is ultimately from Spanish “mahiz”.  Oats is “hawer/hawermeel”.

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Posted: 05 November 2011 02:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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crud, n. The earliest citations of the U. S. slang term refer to undesirable persons, but it quickly spread to encompass various diseases ...

The “curd” origin is widely referenced on the web but the only evidence given is 1920s college use, without citations. Is it just speculation?

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Posted: 05 November 2011 04:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Upon further research, crud is far older than 1940. The origin is complex and rather interesting, so instead of trying to handle in the 1940 Words article, I’ve created a Big List entry.

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Posted: 05 November 2011 06:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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As if the confusion over crud/cruddy/curd weren’t enough, I posted the question here instead of in the 1940 Words thread.

Thanks for the comprehensive explanation!

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Posted: 07 November 2011 04:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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An opportunity to post Dr Johnson’s definition of oats from his magisterial Dictionary must not be missed.

.... a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people

The Great Cham could never resist sly digs at the Scots. ("The noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees, is the high road that leads him to England!")

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Posted: 17 November 2011 07:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I’m a bit late to this party (sorry - I’ve been moving countries) but my feeling is that “corn”, while recognised as a generic term covering wheat, barley etc (as in cornfield) in the UK really isn’t used much as a word: people will generally use the specific word for whatever grain is being talked about. Maize is maize, except when it’s corn on the cob, or turned into cornflower.

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