Definition of teosinte in US English:



  • A Mexican grass that is grown as fodder and is considered to be one of the parent plants of modern corn.

    Zea mays subsp. mexicana, family Gramineae

    • ‘Consequently, they will help to increase our understanding of the gene-flow process in Mexico and Central America where teosinte and maize populations grow in geographic proximity and flower synchronously.’
    • ‘Subspecies mexicana is the teosinte that grows most commonly in maize fields and has been observed to hybridize readily with maize.’
    • ‘We also examine genetic variation in teosinte for several quantitative traits that differentiate maize and teosinte.’
    • ‘In corn, for example, just five regions explain most of the difference between modern crops and wild teosinte.’
    • ‘Plants grown from teosinte seeds were pollinated with maize pollen.’
    • ‘After retirement, he did extensive genetic experiments and became convinced that a rather small number of mutations could convert teosinte into a reasonable facsimile of maize.’
    • ‘Yet archaeological evidence indicates that people were cultivating teosinte, the ancestor of domesticated maize, more than 7,000 years ago.’
    • ‘For decades plant biologists have been arguing about whether domestic maize is really a descendant of teosinte, a Mexican grass.’
    • ‘Comparison of these sequences with those from modern day maize and teosinte samples confirmed modern alleles were present in Mexican maize some 4400 years ago.’
    • ‘We observed a relatively low, although significant, level of differentiation between maize and teosinte.’
    • ‘In fact, teosinte is so unlike modern corn, 19th century botanists did not even consider the two to be related.’
    • ‘Even today, the original lineage of crop corn survives in a lanky grass called teosinte, which has tiny stubs of seeds that only a botanist could love.’


Late 19th century: from French téosinté, from Nahuatl teocintli, apparently from teo:tl ‘god’ + cintli ‘dried ear of maize’.