Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A tall Mexican and Central American annual plant (Zea mexicana) related to corn and cultivated for fodder.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A group of large grasses of the genus Zea found in Mexico, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A large grass (Euchlæna luxurians) closely related to maize. It is native of Mexico and Central America, but is now cultivated for fodder in the Southern United States and in many warm countries. Called also Guatemala grass.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A grass, Euchlœna luxurians, native in Mexico and Central America, introduced into cultivation in various parts of the world.

Etymologies

American Spanish, from Nahuatl teocintli : teōtl, sacred + cintli, dried ear of corn.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French téosinte, from Spanish teocinte, from Classical Nahuatl teocintli, apparently from teōtl ("god") + cintli ("dried maize"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • In the central highlands, where wild grass called teosinte was first cross-bred into the staff of life some 9,000 years ago, corn is viewed not only as a staple food but as a sacrament of Mesoamerican civilization.

    Jan McGirk: Mexico's Mutant Kernels Ripen After GM Corn Ban Reversed

  • Corn is believed to have evolved from a minuscule grain called teosinte, slightly bigger than an earwig.

    The Fruit Hunters

  • Maize, known in the United States as “corn” and among biologists as Zea mays, was domesticated in Mexico some 7,000 to 10,000 years ago from a large grass called teosinte Zea mexicana, which grows in open woodlands.

    On Food and Cooking, The Science and Lore of the Kitchen

  • They pinpointed a particular mutation that happened 23,000 years ago in corn's nearest relative - a short, bushy plant called teosinte , which grows wild in Central America.

    NPR Topics: News

  • "Corn was first domesticated in Mexico nearly 9,000 years ago from a wild grass called teosinte," Dolores Piperno, co-author and curator of New World archaeology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, said in a written statement.

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

  • This picture shows a primitive form of corn, called teosinte, compared to modern corn:

    Forbes.com: News

  • The crop was domesticated from a Central American grass called teosinte some 10,000 years ago.

    Scientific American

  • Since corn was first domesticated from teosinte grass 10,000 years ago, Mexican farmers have been selecting the kernels with the most desirable traits, so that the corn we know today bears very little resemblance to the scraggly plant of its previous incarnations.

    Corn, beans and squash: the life cycle of the milpa

  • Or how about maize, a gross parody of grain created by selectively cultivating teosinte?

    Archive 2008-03-01

  • Corn was cultivated in The Americas long before white settlers arrived and was hybridized originally from a wild grass called teosinte.

    Brigitte Mars: Simple Summer Soup With Brigitte Mars

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