Maize vs. Maze – How to Use Each Correctly

enhancedwriting/ August 31, 2017/ Uncategorized

maize versus maze

What’s the Difference Between Maize and Maze?

Maize and maze are homophones, which means that the two words have the same pronunciation but different meanings.

Maize is a noun that is synonymous with corn.

  • Native Americans grew maize as an important source of food.

Maze is also a noun and it is synonymous with labyrinth.

  • In Greek mythology, a minotaur lived in the center of the maze.

Now, let’s go over a few ways to use these words correctly.

Using Maize in a Sentence

When to use maize: Maize is another word for corn. Occasionally, people use it to refer to the color of corn.

For example,

  • Maize first became cultivated in Mexico.
  • Christopher Columbus learned of maize while in the Americas, and brought it back to Europe.

Many people use the terms maize and corn as true synonyms. Oftentimes, this is fine, as the two words usually refer to the same crop. However, there are a few nuances in the usage of each.

Maize specifically refers to corn in the Americas. Corn has a more general meaning, and can mean other types of grain crops.

Using Maze in a Sentence

When to use maze: A maze is a structure in which it is easy to get lost. It usually has many interconnecting passages and dead ends.

Mazes can be designed intentionally for amusement or confusion. People can also use maze to describe an area that is unintentionally confusing.

For example,

  • New York City’s streets are so well organized compared to Boston’s confusing maze of streets. (unintentional maze)
  • Every year, around Halloween, the pumpkin patch designs a corn maze for children to play in. (intentional maze)

Ironically, corn mazes are somewhat popular in the United States. The walls of these mazes are made out of growing corn plants, and they often are in existing corn fields.

They are usually called corn mazes, but sometime the crafty wordsmith will call them a maize maze.

Remembering Maize vs. Maze

There are two easy ways to remember which word to use and when.

First, maize contains the letter i, just like the word grain. This can remind you that maize is a type of grain.

Second, maze contains the letters a and z together in the word, just like the word crazy. Imagine that if you get stuck in a maze for too long, you might go crazy. This can remind you of the meaning of maze.

Outside Examples

  • In China, donkeys are being stolen from farmers like Ma. Many of China’s 300 million farmers still rely on animal labor to plow fields, carry crops to market or grind maize, especially in poor or mountainous areas. –USA Today
  • Global food security depends on trade in just four crops: maize, wheat, rice and soybeans. –The Washington Post
  • A military spokesman cited by the TV said the insurgents’ defense lines were collapsing. Iraqi commanders say the militants were fighting for every meter with snipers, grenades and suicide bombers, forcing security forces to fight house-to-house in the densely populated maze of narrow alleyways. –New York Post
  • The disabled train’s exact location can be pinpointed on the control center’s big board, a maze of multicolored lines and symbols denoting tracks, trains, restricted work areas and other features. –Houston Chronicle

Quiz: Maze vs. Maize

Instructions: Fill in the blanks with the correct word, either maze or maize.

  • History books make it clear that ___________ was an important food source for Native Americans as well as early European settlers.
  • In some stories, people bring a ball of yarn into a __________ to help them find their way out.
  • The architect originally had intended to plan a simple design, but because of his inexperience the building’s floorplan looked like a ___________.
  • The woman was trapped in the closed garden store for several hours after it had closed. When the police finally rescued her, she explained that she got lost out in perennials, and that entire section was like a ____________.
  • An interesting thing about growing ______________ is that it is easier to grow than many other types of grains.

See answers below.

Article Summary

Should I use maize or maze? These words sound exactly the same but have completely different meanings.

  • Maize means corn, specifically corn from North America.
  • Maze means a labyrinth or a confusing area in which it is easy to get lost.

Of the two words, maze is more common in conversational English than maize. This is because corn is a more conversational word than maize, which is more academic.


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