'Corn' vs 'Maize': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on September 9, 2023

If you need to know the difference between 'corn' vs. 'maize,' you are in luck!

Here is a quick answer: 

  • 'Corn' is a noun and verb that means a grain of cereal grass from the Zea Mays family or to form something into grains or kernels. 
  • 'Maize' is a noun for a tall annual cereal grass first domesticated in Mexico from the Zea Mays family. 
  • 'Corn' and 'maize' come from the same plant. However, the latter is typically a lower quality product used in animal feed and industrial products. 

To gain a deeper understanding of the difference between 'corn' and 'maize,' read this entire guide!

What is the Difference Between 'Corn' vs. 'Maize?'

If the difference between 'corn' vs. 'maize' confuses you, you are not alone. Both come from the Zea Mays plant. However, people generally do not consume the latter. Instead, it is typically used as a filler in animal feed and pet foods.

It is also used in some industrial products and formulations. On the other hand, the former is often consumed as a vegetable or grain, although both 'maize' and 'corn' are actually fruits according to botanist classifications.

When and How to Use 'Corn' vs. 'Maize'

Here are some tips for when and how to use 'corn' vs. 'maize':

  • Use 'corn' when you are describing a dish eaten as a vegetable.

For example, I might say:

What side do you want with dinner tonight, corn or green beans?

  • Use 'corn' when referring to a grain used in breakfast cereals.

As an example, you could say:

She has a medical condition that is aggravated by corn-based cereals. 

  • Use 'maize' to describe a cereal grain product used in industrial products.

So, you can say something like:

The company manufactures a versatile fabric derived from maize husks. 

  • Use 'corn' for a higher-quality product consumed by humans.

For example, you could say:

If you like corn, you are in luck. Most restaurants serve corn as a side. 

  • Use 'maize' for a lower-quality product used in pet foods.

As an example, I might say:

The farmer sells his maize to a local pet food company at a fraction of the price he sells his corn. 

Definition of 'Corn': What Does 'Corn' Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 'corn' is a noun that means:

  • A tiny hard particle or grain

It can also mean:

  • A plant that produces ears of corn that contain starchy seeds
  • A cereal grain produced as a primary crop in regions like Britain, Scotland, and Ireland
  • A tall annual crop from the Zea mays family that was first domesticated in Mexico for the consumption of its elongated ears of starchy seeds
  • An ear of corn with or without its husk
  • Kernels of corn
  • The state or quality of being corny, simple, or overly sentimental
  • A hardening of skin typically found on the feet or hands

It can also be a verb that means:

  • To granulate or form into grains
  • To cure in a salt brine
  • To feed corn
  • To season or preserve with salt

Synonyms and Similar Words to 'Corn'

  • Sludge
  • Mush
  • Claptrap
  • Sorghum
  • Rubbish
  • Filler
  • Slush
  • Drivel
  • Goo
  • Schmalz
  • Soap opera
  • Schmaltz

Definition of 'Maize': What Does 'Maize' Mean?

The same defines the noun 'maize' as:

  • A tall annual crop belonging to the Zea Mays family that was originally domesticated in Mexico and generally grown for its long ears of starchy seeds

Synonyms and Similar Words to 'Maize'

  • Sludge
  • Sorghum
  • Mush
  • Goo
  • Slush
  • Drivel
  • Rubbish
  • Tripe
  • Claptrap

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Corn' vs. 'Maize'

Next, let's look at the pronunciation of 'corn' vs. 'maize.' Learning the proper pronunciation of these terms will help to give you confidence to use them in verbal and non-verbal communication and help you remember the difference and how to spell these words.

So, here is a quick pronunciation guide you can reference.

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'corn':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'maize':


Sample Sentences Using 'Corn' vs. 'Maize'

Finally, read each of the sample sentences below using 'corn' vs. 'maize' to ensure that you understand the proper ways to use them.


  • I prefer to eat green leafy vegetables rather than corn.
  • Most cereals contain a high percentage of corn grain.
  • Corn is one of the most widely produced crops in the world.
  • We should have never cut through that cornfield. We got lost in the tall stalks of corn and thought we would never find our way out.


  • I went to see my cousins in Pennsylvania when I was a child, and we went to an enormous maize maze.
  • We use maize as a filler in our animal feed products.
  • Maize is a cereal grain that is often ground into small granules.
  • We purchased decorative maize from the store to add to the decorative arrangement on our table for Thanksgiving.


  • The farmer produced corn for human consumption and sold his maize to pet food companies.
  • Drinks sweetened with corn sugars often contain maize instead of corn.
  • Technically, corn and maize are the same thing. They are both grown from a Zea mays plant.
  • Corn syrup often contains the lower quality maize grain.

Recap: The Difference Between 'Corn' vs. 'Maize'

Before you go, here is a recap of what you learned about the difference between 'corn' vs. 'maize':

  • 'Corn' is a tall annual cereal grain crop derived from a plant belonging to the Zea mays family that was originally domesticated in Mexico. 
  • 'Maize' is also a tall annual cereal grain from the Zea Mays family that was first domesticated and cultivated in Mexico. 
  • 'Corn' and 'maize' come from the same plant, but 'maize' is generally a lower quality that is used in animal feed and the production of other products like corn meal and corn syrup. 

Make sure to bookmark our site so you can return to this page in case you need to review this lesson or verify the meanings of other confusing words. Each of our guides contains a brief and detailed explanation, definitions, grammar rules, usage tips, and sample sentences.

So, they are an excellent way to improve your grammar and writing skills and expand your vocabulary!

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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