Word Origin & History
"grain," O.E. corn, from P.Gmc. *kurnam "small seed," from PIE base *ger- "wear away" (O.Slav. zruno "grain," Skt. jr- "to wear down," L. granum). The sense of the O.E. word was "grain with the seed still in" rather than a particular plant. Locally understood to denote the leading crop of a district.
Restricted to corn on the cob in America (originally Indian corn, but the adjective was dropped), usually wheat in England, oats in Scotland and Ireland, while korn means "rye" in parts of Germany. Introduced to China by 1550, it thrived where rice did not grow well and was a significant factor in the 18th century population boom there. Cornflakes first recorded 1907. Corned beef so called for the "corns" or grains of salt with which it is preserved.
"hardening of skin," c.1440, from O.Fr. corn "horn," later, "corn on the foot," from L. cornu "horn" (see horn