What is the difference between 'corn' and 'kernel'? These two words always appear together as 'corn kernels' on the packs of corn that we buy. I know both refer to the little yellow cereal we eat but how do they relate to each other. I've looked up both words in the dictionary but I still don't have a real idea of the two words, probably due to my unfamiliarity with food names. Please shed some light on this.


"Corn" is the name of the plant; "kernels" are the little individual bits. They grow in rows on structures called "ears," and eating it while still on the ears is called having "corn on the cob."

I'm planting three different kinds of corn in my vegetable garden this year. One variety, Big Yellow, is supposed to have kernels almost half an inch wide.
Would you pick up some canned corn at the market today?
To make this recipe using fresh corn, simply cut the kernels from the ears using a sharp knife.
I'm so happy David's orthodontist is taking his braces off next week. He will be able to eat corn on the cob at the family Fourth of July picnic.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Ah, I see. Thanks for your explanation,  Delmobile.


Corn and Kernel have old roots in English language.


Both words are for the seeds of edible grasses, like oats, wheat, and maize (Americans call Corn).

Kernel was for smaller/lesser.

The old song "John Barley Corn", shows that the important cereal at the time barley was called corn.

So it seems through history the important grain grown in an English speaking area is simply called "corn".