1. (Science: botany) A plant, and its fruit, of the genus Pisum, of many varieties, much cultivated for food. It has a papilionaceous flower, and the pericarp is a legume, popularly called a pod.
When a definite number, more than one, is spoken of, the plural form peas is used; as, the pod contained nine peas; but, in a collective sense, the form pease is preferred; as, a bushel of pease; they had pease at dinner. This distinction is not always preserved, the form peas being used in both senses.
2. A name given, especially in the southern states, to the seed of several leguminous plants (species of Dolichos, Cicer, abrus, etc) especially. Those having a scar (hilum) of a different colour from the rest of the seed.
The name pea is given to many leguminous plants more or less closely related to the common pea. See the phrases, below.
3. (Science: botany) beach pea, the annual plant Lathyrus odoratus; also, its many-coloured, sweet-scented blossoms.
Origin: OE. Pese, fr. AS. Pisa, or OF. Peis, F. Pois; both fr. L. Pisum; cf. Gr,. The final s was misunderstood in English as a plural ending. Cf. Pease.