Cereal is a grassy grain used for food, like corn or wheat. But if someone offers you a bowl of cereal, don’t expect a pile of grass. Cereal is also a popular breakfast food served in a bowl with milk.

You can use the word cereal when you talk about a grain crop, the harvested grain, or the prepared breakfast food. Oatmeal is a hot cereal, and Cheerios is a cold one. Originally, cereal meant "having to do with edible grain," from the Latin Cerealis, "of grain," but also "of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture." Next time you enjoy a bowl of Fruit Loops, make sure to thank Ceres, the goddess of agriculture.

Definitions of cereal

n grass whose starchy grains are used as food: wheat; rice; rye; oats; maize; buckwheat; millet

cereal grass
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annual grass of Europe and North Africa; grains used as food and fodder (referred to primarily in the plural: `oats')
cultivated since prehistoric times; grown for forage and grain
annual or perennial rhizomatous marsh grasses; seed used for food; straw used for paper
rice grass, ricegrass
any grass of the genus Oryzopsis
Pennisetum Americanum, Pennisetum glaucum, bulrush millet, cattail millet, pearl millet
tall grass having cattail like spikes; grown in Africa and Asia for its grain and in the United States chiefly for forage; sometimes used in making beer
Secale cereale, rye
hardy annual cereal grass widely cultivated in northern Europe where its grain is the chief ingredient of black bread and in North America for forage and soil improvement
any of various small-grained annual cereal and forage grasses of the genera Panicum, Echinochloa, Setaria, Sorghum, and Eleusine
a cereal grass
annual or biennial grass having erect flower spikes and light brown grains
Indian corn, Zea mays, corn, maize
tall annual cereal grass bearing kernels on large ears: widely cultivated in America in many varieties; the principal cereal in Mexico and Central and South America since pre-Columbian times
(Great Britain) any of various cereal plants (especially the dominant crop of the region--wheat in Great Britain or oats in Scotland and Ireland)
Zizania aquatica, wild rice
perennial aquatic grass of North America bearing grain used for food
Avena sativa, cereal oat
widely cultivated in temperate regions for its edible grains
Avena fatua, wild oat, wild oat grass
common in meadows and pastures
Avena barbata, slender wild oat
oat of southern Europe and southwestern Asia
Avene sterilis, animated oat, wild red oat
Mediterranean oat held to be progenitor of modern cultivated oat
Echinochloa crusgalli, barn grass, barn millet, barnyard grass
a coarse annual panic grass; a cosmopolitan weed; occasionally used for hay or grazing
Echinochloa frumentacea, Japanese barnyard millet, Japanese millet, billion-dollar grass, sanwa millet
coarse annual grass cultivated in Japan and southeastern Asia for its edible seeds and for forage; important wildlife food in United States
Eleusine indica, goose grass, wire grass, yard grass, yardgrass
coarse annual grass having fingerlike spikes of flowers; native to Old World tropics; a naturalized weed elsewhere
African millet, Eleusine coracana, coracan, corakan, finger millet, kurakkan, ragee, ragi
East Indian cereal grass whose seed yield a somewhat bitter flour, a staple in the Orient
Hordeum vulgare, common barley
grass yielding grain used for breakfast food and animal feed and in malt beverages
Hordeum murinum, barley grass, wall barley
European annual grass often found as a weed in waste ground especially along roadsides and hedgerows
Hordeum jubatum, foxtail barley, squirreltail barley, squirreltail grass
barley grown for its highly ornamental flower heads with delicate long silky awns; North America and northeastern Asia
Hordeum pusillum, little barley
annual barley native to western North America and widespread in southern United States and tropical America
Oryza sativa, cultivated rice
yields the staple food of 50 percent of world's population
Indian millet, Oryzopsis hymenoides, mountain rice, silk grass, silkgrass
valuable forage grass of dry upland areas and plains of western North America to northern Mexico
Oryzopsis miliacea, smilo, smilo grass
perennial mountain rice native to Mediterranean region and introduced into North America
panic grass
any grass of the genus Panicum; grown for grain and fodder
economically important Old World tropical cereal grass
Triticum durum, Triticum turgidum, durum, durum wheat, hard wheat, macaroni wheat
wheat with hard dark-colored kernels high in gluten and used for bread and pasta; grown especially in southern Russia, North Africa, and northern central North America
soft wheat
wheat with soft starch kernels used in pastry and breakfast cereals
Triticum aestivum, common wheat
widely cultivated in temperate regions in many varieties for its commercially important grain
Triticum aestivum spelta, Triticum spelta, spelt
hardy wheat grown mostly in Europe for livestock feed
Triticum dicoccum, emmer, starch wheat, two-grain spelt
hard red wheat grown especially in Russia and Germany; in United States as stock feed
Triticum dicoccum dicoccoides, wild emmer, wild wheat
found wild in Palestine; held to be prototype of cultivated wheat
field corn
corn grown primarily for animal feed or market grain
Zea mays rugosa, Zea saccharata, green corn, sugar corn, sweet corn, sweet corn plant
a corn plant developed in order to have young ears that are sweet and suitable for eating
Zea mays everta, popcorn
corn having small ears and kernels that burst when exposed to dry heat
Type of:
narrow-leaved green herbage: grown as lawns; used as pasture for grazing animals; cut and dried as hay

n foodstuff prepared from the starchy grains of cereal grasses

food grain, grain
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corn, edible corn
ears of corn that can be prepared and served for human food
grain intended to be or that has been ground
the hulled and crushed grain of various cereals
small seed of any of various annual cereal grasses especially Setaria italica
barley, barleycorn
a grain of barley
grain ground into flour
wheat, wheat berry
grains of common wheat; sometimes cooked whole or cracked as cereal; usually ground into flour
seed of the annual grass Avena sativa (spoken of primarily in the plural as `oats')
grains used as food either unpolished or more often polished
Indian rice, wild rice
grains of aquatic grass of North America
a cereal grain (usually barley) that is kiln-dried after having been germinated by soaking in water; used especially in brewing and distilling
green corn, sweet corn
corn that can be eaten as a vegetable while still young and soft
hulled corn with the bran and germ removed
small kernels of corn exploded by heat
pearl barley
barley ground into small round pellets
bulghur, bulgur, bulgur wheat
parched crushed wheat
cracked wheat
grains of wheat that have been crushed into small pieces
brown rice
unpolished rice retaining the yellowish-brown outer layer
polished rice, white rice
having husk or outer brown layers removed
rice in the husk either gathered or still in the field
unfermented or fermenting malt
Type of:
food product, foodstuff
a substance that can be used or prepared for use as food

n a breakfast food prepared from grain

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a soft form of cereal for infants
hot cereal
a cereal that is served hot
cold cereal, dry cereal
a cereal that is not heated before serving
cornmeal mush, mush
cornmeal boiled in water
grits, hominy grits
coarsely ground hulled corn boiled as a breakfast dish in the southern United States
boiled or baked buckwheat
sweet spiced porridge made from hulled wheat
cereal made of especially rolled oats with dried fruits and nuts and honey or brown sugar
raisin bran
bran flakes with raisins
corn flake
crisp flake made from corn
bran flake
wheat flake including the bran
crisp flake made from wheat
puffed rice
puffy rice kernels
puffed wheat
puffy wheat berries
Type of:
breakfast food
any food (especially cereal) usually served for breakfast

adj made of grain or relating to grain or the plants that produce it

“a cereal beverage”
cereal grasses”

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