Definition of grain in English:



  • 1[mass noun] Wheat or any other cultivated cereal used as food.

    • ‘With a few grains of rice and barley from the bottom of one of the ship's sacks, the sailor planted what would become large fields of grain.’
    • ‘He now had two patches of grain and maize while apricots, cherries, plums and quince hung heavily from boughs covered in thick, grey lichen.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, the late break is increasing the pressure on grain growers wanting to plant canola.’
    • ‘Greenbugs are a serious pest of grain and sorghum in the Southern Plains.’
    • ‘Grain growers want the best price for their produce.’
    • ‘They keep down the rodent population in Egypt's economically important grain fields along the Nile.’
    • ‘The staple grain is wheat and Pakistan is a predominantly bread-eating country.’
    • ‘In the north and the west, where the climate is too dry to grow rice, wheat is the staple grain.’
    • ‘Students learned the impact plant breeders had on the quality and quantity of grain as well as consumer products.’
    • ‘In rural areas, rats are a threat to seed and grain crops.’
    • ‘He says that while the area will never produce the quantities of the huge grain-growing areas, there is massive potential for the region.’
    • ‘Thus, even if a curious farmer were to plant some genetically modified grain received as food aid, its continued presence in the field is unlikely.’
    • ‘They grow grain, sorghum, and wheat with rest periods in between.’
    • ‘Their enterprise consists of 500 breeding ewes and 40 suckler cows in association with 50 acres of sugar beet, the rest is in grain.’
    • ‘Pollination is the transfer of pollen - plant grains that contain male DNA - from the male part of a flower to the female part of a flower.’
    • ‘The crop farmers have wheat and grain and corn and potatoes and squash and beans and lettuce.’
    • ‘Hernandez is most praising of corn, even hinting of the grain's possible superiority to wheat.’
    • ‘Potatoes had the advantage of producing three times as much food per acre as grain.’
    • ‘The food grain was first domesticated over 10,000 years ago in the Middle East.’
    cereal, cereal crops
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    1. 1.1 The seeds of wheat or other cultivated cereals.
      • ‘At times they eat arthropods, seeds, and grain, but they are more carnivorous than crows.’
      • ‘You need the disintegrating quality of the grain to give you a creamy but firm texture.’
      • ‘The mutant lines also had higher seed weights and grain yields per plant than the parental line.’
      • ‘Durum wheat is an important cereal whose grain is used predominantly for food products such as pasta, couscous, and burghul.’
      • ‘Pots are made in various sizes for drawing water, cooking, brewing beer, and storing grain and other foods.’
      • ‘Quail typically hunt for seeds, grain, grasses, plant leaves and buds, acorns, and insects.’
      • ‘Continued wet weather can affect the quality of the grain, so it can only be used for the cheaper animal feed market.’
      • ‘In fall and winter, Northern Pintails eat seeds and waste grain.’
      • ‘Harissa a traditional meal, consists of wheat grain and lamb cooked over low heat.’
      • ‘Our team on the ground need grain and specialised food to bring immediate relief to people.’
      • ‘You also can train them to return to the coop during the day by putting grain or their favorite food scraps in the coop.’
      • ‘We have power shortages and shortages of food grain, vegetables and grocery items.’
      • ‘However, despite the increase in the monthly rate of inflation, there was a significant decline in the prices of food items especially maize meal and grain.’
      • ‘Food grain is brought from Gojam and used to feed the people.’
      • ‘But any untreated food like hay or grain cannot be imported and they're not going to be allowed for the Olympics.’
      • ‘The best vodkas are made from grain, with wheat and rye top of the list.’
      • ‘He described the situation as alarming because, according to experts, the quality of the grain was deteriorating with every passing day.’
      • ‘Government storehouses are overflowing with food grain.’
      • ‘It was caused by a pathogen that invaded the wheat grain, and also affected durum wheats and triticale.’
      • ‘The other issue of grave concern is the continual importation of maize grain.’
  • 2A single fruit or seed of a cereal:

    ‘a few grains of corn’
    • ‘The individual grains of wheat and rice are also fruits by this definition.’
    • ‘Single grains of sweetcorn are excellent in natural and dyed and/or flavoured forms.’
    • ‘Where people are wealthier, there is the luxury of experimenting with a variety of breads which may include more types of grains, dried fruits, nuts and seeds.’
    • ‘Inside a caravan two anti-war protesters cooked their final few grains of rice before waving goodbye.’
    • ‘I got into the raw foods theory when I was in my late twenties and would only eat raw vegetables and raw fruit, with a small amount of grains and nuts.’
    • ‘Those tastes were wonderfully different, especially the seeds and grains of the outback.’
    • ‘I would roast and cook the grains in quantities large enough to serve several times in the coming days and put a small pile on my husband's plate for a taste.’
    • ‘You may need to add grains of rice or beans and shake to get scouring action with these products also.’
    • ‘His diet consists mainly of grains, seeds, fruit, vegetables and non-stimulating drinks.’
    • ‘If we plant one seed of barley, when it matures we will have several grains of barley.’
    • ‘The risotto turned out to be excellent and very well seasoned, with its fat grains of al dente rice and its large chunks of tasty mushrooms.’
    • ‘Starlings eat a diverse, omnivorous diet of invertebrates, berries and other fruit, grains, and seeds.’
    • ‘It was more of a soup than a pudding, with soft grains of rice resting beneath a slightly cardamom-ized sweetened milk, topped with chopped pistachio nuts.’
    • ‘Although the grains of rice were just this side of undercooked, the sauce was packed with a rich, pungent flavour.’
    • ‘I like to go one better and add grains of boiled rice as well.’
    • ‘It's made with thick grains of sushi rice and served in a bowl with two warm croquettes filled with mango sauce.’
    • ‘Eight grains of rice were scattered across the table, polished and gleaming like tiny gems.’
    • ‘We have a reliable supply of grains and very good quality water supply so we have something to work with.’
    • ‘Other materials favoured by Yin and fellow artists are human hair, beans, pearls, stones or grains of rice.’
    • ‘Grain flakes or rolled grains are sliced and then flattened between rollers.’
    kernel, seed, grist, fruit
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    1. 2.1 A small hard particle of a substance such as salt or sand:
      ‘a grain of salt’
      • ‘Well, some of us may give objects personalities but we've never come even remotely close to assigning a personality to something like a grain of sand.’
      • ‘You don't regard a grain of sand when building a pyramid; you interact with a mass of sand.’
      • ‘Pollen grain number was calculated for 20 flowers (five each from four trees) of each type.’
      • ‘The last word he shouts after her when she leaves the house settles in his mind the way a grain of sand comes to a halt in the dense flesh of oysters.’
      • ‘A large percentage of the sand grains are composed of fragments from the green alga Halimeda.’
      • ‘During the event, particles smaller than a grain of sand burn up as they stream through the Earth's atmosphere at speeds of 150,000 miles an hour.’
      • ‘This planet is a grain of sand in a universe that is so much greater than we can dream.’
      • ‘Forecasters said the pollen count across Greater Manchester would be high today, between 50 and 149 grains of grass pollen per cubic metre of air.’
      • ‘This early embryo is a ball of cells smaller than a grain of sand.’
      • ‘We banged the mortar and pestle like oriental drummers in the echoing stainless steel kitchen, but our ground cumin and coriander looked more like gravel than grains of the finest spices.’
      • ‘This wider mix of particle sizes is important because how much sediment a river carries also depends on the relative mix of coarse and fine grains.’
      • ‘The highest ever count - 1,100 grains of pollen per cubic metre - was recorded in Cardiff in 1992.’
      • ‘The perfect mix for sandcastles is one part water for every eight parts of sand but another factor is the density of the sand, with finer grains producing a better mix.’
      • ‘Pollen grain viability at the time of anther dehiscence and later stages was estimated using the fluorescein diacetate test.’
      • ‘The Leonids are grains of dust from comet Tempel-Tuttle colliding into Earth's atmosphere.’
      • ‘That was 360 grains of pollen per cubic metre of air.’
      • ‘I've learned all about negative calories and calorie-free soup today (hot water with a grain of salt in it).’
      • ‘It contains particles smaller than a grain of sand, each one containing a unique nine-digit identification code.’
      • ‘Willard can create a masterpiece within the eye of a tiny sewing needle, on the head of a pin, the tip of an eyelash or a grain of sand.’
      • ‘The lengthy but exciting search for dust grains will be conducted by Internet volunteers.’
      granule, particle, speck, spot, mote, mite, dot
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    2. 2.2 The smallest possible quantity or amount of a quality:
      ‘there wasn't a grain of truth in what he said’
      • ‘I don't know anyone with a grain of football knowledge who thinks that England will saunter to a four-goal victory.’
      • ‘In most of these criticisms there is a grain of truth, but collectively they suggest a determination not to be pleased.’
      • ‘The bepimpled teenager channelling his angst through a controller in the darkness of his parent's basement is a cliché with more than a few grains of truth.’
      • ‘Illusions need not be all false; they may contain grains of truth.’
      • ‘Anybody who knows him will find more than a grain of truth in the story, for he is one of the most taciturn men in football.’
      • ‘Yesterday's review by two animal behaviour experts at Cambridge University suggests that there might be more than a grain of truth in such stories.’
      • ‘He pondered the possibility of a grain of truth in each, and lost himself in thought.’
      • ‘But, I should confess, there was still a tiny voice in the back of my mind wondering if there might still be a grain of truth in the story about a suggested link between autism and MMR.’
      • ‘But some religious practices have grains of truth in them.’
      • ‘I was beginning to think how beautiful every grain of freedom was.’
      • ‘The grains of truth in their claim explode in their minds into hatred and obliterate all reason.’
      • ‘Hints, like Halloween, often hold more than a grain of truth.’
      • ‘The barbs aimed from the English duo of Austin Healey and Matt Dawson in 2001 hurt, but Henry has been big enough to accept the grains of truth and move on.’
      • ‘Old notions die hard, especially when they contain a solid grain of truth.’
      trace, hint, suggestion, suspicion, tinge, shadow
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    3. 2.3 A discrete particle or crystal in a metal, igneous rock, etc., typically visible only when a surface is magnified.
      • ‘Quartz grains are angular, suggestive of eolian origin.’
      • ‘On the basis of their morphology, they are interpreted to be late-stage igneous grains.’
      • ‘The grain size of an igneous rock depends upon the rate of cooling.’
      • ‘Some are made up of dense, black, homogeneous basalt, with no visible mineral grains.’
      • ‘The diamonds he watches so closely are not the rocks on the rings of the rich and famous, they are tiny grains of pure carbon coating the blades, polishers and shapers the company produces.’
    4. 2.4 A piece of solid propellant for use in a rocket engine.
      • ‘Minor variations in the weight of the projectile, form of the rotating band, and moisture content and temperature of the propellant grains.’
  • 3The smallest unit of weight in the troy and avoirdupois systems, equal to 1/5760 of a pound troy and 1/7000 of a pound avoirdupois (approximately 0.0648 gram).

    • ‘The ounce was approximately 450 grains, i.e. slightly heavier than the modern one.’
    • ‘Prior to 1933, the name ‘dollar’ was used to refer to a unit of gold that had a weight of 23.22 grains.’
    • ‘It is available in two forms at sporting goods stores - one calibrated in grains and the other in grams.’
    • ‘Incidentally, some may wonder why we have oddball bullet weights such as 139 and 154 grains.’
    • ‘Pour your powder into the hopper, enter in your desired charge weight in grains, and press a button.’
    • ‘Bullet weights increasing from 110 to 180 grains in normal increments seemed like a sensible idea.’
    • ‘They had to drop bullet weight about 20 grains but did they have to reduce velocity from .45 Colt loads?’
    • ‘The prize nuggets ranged from about 12 grains to about 3 pennyweights.’
    • ‘The power factor is simply bullet weight in grains multiplied by velocity in feet per second, divided by 1,000.’
    • ‘Consider four 7mm cartridges, all firing 139-to 140 - grain bullets.’
    • ‘It's a boat-tailed bullet (that is, the rear of the bullet is tapered) and weighs 173 grains.’
    • ‘Multiply the hardness of the water in grains per gallon by 8 (or 7.866 to be more precise).’
    • ‘Bullet weights from 185 to 230 grains were fired at combat distances with elevation being right on for all practical purposes.’
    • ‘It's not so surprising that people chose the grain (weighing four point eight centigrams) as the unit of measure.’
    • ‘The weight is a few grains more which may stiffen the shaft a little.’
    • ‘It was a spinoff of a laboratory scale that was simply told to read grains instead of grams.’
    • ‘How anyone dreamed up a system where 20 fluid ounces makes one pint, 437.5 grains makes one ounce and 1,760 yards makes one mile is beyond us.’
    • ‘In the metric system, there are 454 grams to a pound but there are 7,000 grains.’
  • 4[mass noun] The longitudinal arrangement or pattern of fibres in wood, paper, etc.:

    ‘he scored along the grain of the table with the knife’
    • ‘The fabric may need to be refolded along the crosswise grain to accommodate the pattern pieces.’
    • ‘He lay on his side, staring at the pattern of the wood grain on the bedpost, wishing he could just drop off.’
    • ‘The end grain of a very hard wood is used and the cuts into the wood are made along the grain.’
    • ‘For the best fit around the torso, position the body pattern pieces with their length along the crosswise grain.’
    • ‘Wood may vary greatly in hardness, grain pattern, and grain direction.’
    • ‘If you do woodwork at school, you learn to exploit the properties of wood, such as it splits along the grain.’
    • ‘It is hard and durable, has good grain patterns, and mills and finishes nicely.’
    • ‘Translucent wood stains complement the natural beauty of wood by allowing the pattern of the grain to show.’
    • ‘Cut the beef into very thin slices across the grain into bite-size pieces (or ask your butcher to do this).’
    • ‘Because polyurethanes are a surface finish, care should be taken to work along the grain.’
    • ‘Cut the beef across the grain into paper thin slices.’
    • ‘For garment sewing, where pattern pieces are usually cut on the lengthwise grain, try one or more of the following.’
    • ‘Mark Bishop's Black Heart Myrtle platter has a simple shape that shows the rich colour and unusual grain of this timber.’
    • ‘The direction of the grain, as well as the amount of figuring in the wood, can affect the way it is sanded and sawed.’
    • ‘I haven't found anyone who claims 100 percent accuracy in identifying special grain patterns just by looking at bark.’
    • ‘As soon as she was gone, I sighed loudly and stared at the table, mentally tracing the patterns of the wood grain.’
    • ‘Heavy cutting of solid wood along the grain is best done with a dedicated ripping blade.’
    • ‘Cut a narrow strip of fusible tricot interfacing along the lengthwise grain and apply it to the wrong side of the zipper seam.’
    • ‘The wood grain should run longitudinally to minimize warping and cracking.’
    • ‘His fingers started absently tracing patterns in the wood grain on the bar.’
    texture, intertexture, surface, finish, feel
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    1. 4.1 The texture of wood, stone, etc., as determined by the arrangement and size of constituent particles:
      ‘the lighter, finer grain of the wood is attractive’
      • ‘Later, other tectonic events created a series of fractures that cut across the grain of the gneiss.’
      • ‘His enormous woodcuts depend upon many smaller woodcuts and upon the fine grain of the wood itself.’
      • ‘Like teak, it is prized for its strength, weight and working quality - the fine grain, for example, allows the wood to be polished to a high shine.’
      • ‘But perhaps the art of joinery is subtle enough to conceal the ill-will of the maker in the fine grain of the wood, or to obscure it with careful polishing.’
      • ‘When cutting rocks is that most sedimentary rock will cut easier when you follow the grain in the rock.’
      • ‘We pushed open the 600 year-old great oak door, hard as bell metal with the patina of pilgrimage etched deep into its rough grain and stepped in.’
      • ‘I touched the wood of the central cabin, feeling solidity and wood grain warmed by the morning sun under my fingertips.’
      • ‘When did you last trace the grain in a piece of wood, sing a song, or just hold someone's hand?’
      • ‘Texture: do you want the frame and molding to appear smooth and slick or do you want to feel the wood's grain?’
      • ‘The complete absence of grain and texture makes carving difficult and unrewarding.’
      • ‘He let his weight carry him to the floor with his back leaning against the desk, the feel of the wood grain against his back called up memories that made him feel even weaker.’
    2. 4.2 The rough or wrinkled outer surface of leather, or of a similar artificial material.
      • ‘Again, it works because there is nothing token or apologetic about it, and you end up not minding the hard plastic surfaces because they are honest enough not to ape leather grain.’
      • ‘The Hissatsu's grip is black polymer with a molded-in deep pebble grain surface.’
      • ‘Eagle's new ‘Ultra Ivory’ is a synthetic material with the grain and texture of real ivory.’
    3. 4.3Mining Lamination or planes of cleavage in materials such as stone and coal.
    4. 4.4Photography A grainy appearance of a photograph or negative, which is in proportion to the size of the emulsion particles composing it.
      • ‘There is a small amount of grain, though it's never overly intrusive while watching the film.’
      • ‘The only flaw I spotted was a small amount of grain in a few key scenes.’
      • ‘That said, at times the picture does have a fair amount of grain which is the biggest flaw in the image quality.’
      • ‘Edge enhancement was kept at a minimum, and only a small amount of grain was spotted.’
      • ‘The grain and camcorder quality degrade the already poor material to the point of being unwatchable.’
  • 5archaic A person's character or natural tendency.

    • ‘And it doesn't go with the grain of human nature.’
    • ‘The last argument O'Neill deals with is that the market runs with the grain of human nature which is self interest.’
    • ‘The complexity of modern Britain which put at the heart of New Labour is just not reflected in the fine grain of this new movement.’
    • ‘‘You have to reflect the history of the area and you have to give something back which reflects the urban grain,’ he said.’
    • ‘Welfare had to work with the grain of human nature.’
    personality, nature, disposition, temperament, temper, mentality, turn of mind, psychology, psyche, constitution, make-up, make, stamp, mould, cast
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  • 6historical [mass noun] Kermes or cochineal, or dye made from either of these.


  • 1Give a rough surface or texture to:

    ‘her fingers were grained with chalk dust’
    • ‘Her body was becoming grained with sweat.’
    1. 1.1[no object] Form into grains:
      ‘if the sugar does grain up, add more water’
      • ‘The acid had the desirable effect of keeping the sugar mixture clear and hard when it cooled, instead of graining, i.e. recrystallizing to granulated sugar.’
  • 2usually as noun grainingPaint (especially furniture or interior surfaces) in imitation of the grain of wood or marble.

    • ‘If you're familiar with wood graining this technique will be easy for you to master.’
    • ‘Among these are smoke graining (executed with a candle), dry graining (achieved by squeezing most of the paint off the brush), stenciling, and freehand painting.’
    • ‘In the room from North East, he settled on a faded coat of greenish-blue paint visible over earlier layers of white and trompe l'oeil graining.’
    • ‘I think I could paint and grain a door even today, because I can recollect how he used to do it.’
    • ‘Nathaniel Clements, another decorative artist from Dublin, likes to work with finishes such as marbling and graining that date back to the 18th century.’
  • 3Remove hair from (a hide).

  • 4North American Feed (a horse) on grain.

    • ‘He dismounted, led the horse to the barn and grained him.’
    • ‘I still have a field of good timothy and alfalfa I let them up the hill cut on shares, and I grain her just as much as I need.’
    • ‘Grain the horse no sooner than two hours after the ride.’
    • ‘The boy who took the mare in and grained it knew one thing about the owner instantly.’


  • against the grain

    • Contrary to the natural inclination or feeling of someone or something:

      ‘it goes against the grain to tell outright lies’
      • ‘That crazy non-conformist is totally going against the grain by wearing an outfit designed by Wayne Cooper.’
      • ‘Not taking as final the manager's opinion on player purchases goes against the grain in the British game.’
      • ‘Most young people are afraid of not being accepted if they go against the grain.’
      • ‘Time after time, he's undertaken initiatives which have gone against the grain of public opinion.’
      • ‘When did you last hear a politician genuinely appeal to our higher nature, go against the grain because what they believed in was simply the right thing to do?’
      • ‘I've decided to go against the grain and not have any mixed drinks tonight.’
      • ‘Much as it goes against the grain to praise the legal profession in any way, I was reminded earlier this week of one of the benefits of the profession.’
      • ‘But helping the poor directly would go against the grain of the ruling party's old guard.’
      • ‘We like to find unique clothes that bring out the best in our personalities and go against the grain.’
      • ‘For an estate agent, having to talk a house down instead of up goes against the grain, admits Craig Grantham.’


Middle English (originally in the sense ‘seed, grain of corn’): from Old French grain, from Latin granum.