In Arabic, we have an umbrella term, lib, for a specific type of seeds; the one people eat as refreshments, namely sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, squash seeds and watermelon seeds. Such a word would be useful for the time when I ask my brother to go buy us some lib, he'd automatically understand what type of seed I want and exclude fruit seeds, for example.

(Edit) I've included a picture of where roasted lib and other light snacks, such as roasted peanuts and chickpeas, are sold. Nuts are very expensive (A kilogram of cashew costs around 1/6 of average salary) that we don't rely on them as snack food. Shops like this one is almost everywhere. People taking a stroll around would usually turn into these shops and buy lib.enter image description here

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    Seeds are not considered a refreshment in English, but rather a snack. In general there is no word to distinguish one kind of seed from another, aside from the plant they came from. This is probably more of a cultural difference since there is no special importance attached to eating seeds. Nuts are more common. – Andrew Dec 13 '17 at 2:31
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    I doubt if there is such a word, since eating seeds as snacks is not part of our culture. However, nuts are eaten as snacks, especially around Christmas-time (in the UK). Roast chestnuts are very traditional. – Mick Dec 13 '17 at 2:31
  • @Mick or candy. – Andrew Dec 13 '17 at 2:31

Some grocery stores here in the US, or at least in California, sell dry foods in bulk. Dry foods includes such things as nuts and seeds, but also flour, sugar, oats, rice, dried fruits, candy, crackers, tea, and coffee.

Typical nuts are peanuts, almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, pistachio nuts, walnuts, macadamia nuts, soy nuts, and pine nuts. Seeds are sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin.

Collectively these can be called "snack foods" ... but this list also includes things like potato chips, popcorn, candy, cookies, pastries, cheese, granola, granola bars, and a wide range of other baked, fried, dried, or otherwise processed items. List of snack foods (international)

This is why I say there is no single word just for "seed snacks". In fact, to distinguish these from processed items made from seeds, we would just call them "seeds" (or specifically "sunflower seeds"). Usually these are sold in bags, often with various added flavors.


I doubt if there is such a word, since eating seeds as snacks is not part of traditional British culture, and this is probably the same in other English-speaking countries. However, nuts are eaten as snacks, for example peanuts and cashew nuts. In the UK, mixed nuts, including almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts, are eaten around Christmas-time. Roast chestnuts were also very traditional in the past, and may still be found today at winter fairs and in shopping malls.

Muesli contains seeds, as well as nuts, oats and dried fruit. However, this is normally eaten as a breakfast cereal.

A lot of seeds, including flax, sunflower, poppy, sesame, hemp and pumpkin, are added to various kinds of bread.

The type of mixed seeds that you refer to are normally used for feeding birds, and are known collectively as birdseed. Note that it would be socially unacceptable to offer birdseed to guests.

birdseed [British] noun

a mixture of various kinds of seeds for feeding cagebirds

  • Also called: canary seed

Collins English Dictionary

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    Interesting ... is it really not common in the UK to snack on seeds? It's fairly common in the US. But no, there is no general term for "snacking seeds" that I know of. And I don't think anyone would use the term birdseed in this context, except possibly as a joke. – Dave Costa Dec 13 '17 at 4:17
  • Maybe muesli bars. I'll have to look up the ingredients. – Mick Dec 13 '17 at 4:19
  • @Mick I myself have a bag of pumpkin seeds downstairs. But then I live in California. – Andrew Dec 13 '17 at 6:04
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    If one wants to be really technical about it, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, and many other "nuts" are actually seeds... – stangdon Dec 13 '17 at 16:06

Arabic and Indian culture match somehow. We too have such things what we call mukhvaas (pronounced: moo-k-vaas; mukh here means mouth, vaas is smell/fragrance) that literally translates - good fragrance in mouth, of course, refreshing. So, the closest term you can think of is: mouth refresher/refreshing seeds. Please note that in other (or most of?) countries, this term may mean some kind of refreshing (say mint) liquid to swish it in our mouths or simply a spray. Natives may not have an idea about it.

The whole range of refreshing seeds is here. And it does include many from your list.

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    I'm sorry, but I don't see how pumpkin seeds can be considered "mouth refreshers"? It's not like anise, which is more of an aromatic herb; pumpkin seeds are usually savory, and have nutritional value. Sara seems to be asking if English has a special word for "snack seeds", which (as far as I know) it does not. – Andrew Dec 13 '17 at 3:08
  • She mentions refreshment as primary information! And we *do have them for refreshment! You never know Indians! :) @Andrew – Maulik V Dec 13 '17 at 3:12
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    The problem is, the word that you have provided is not an English word, and has not yet had time for English-speaking populations to assimilate it in the way that some Indian culinary terms have been assimilated. I have certainly never heard of muhkvaas. – Mick Dec 13 '17 at 3:47

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