The term Bean originally referred to the seed of the broad bean, but was later broadened to include members of the genus Phaseolus such as the common bean or haricot and the runner bean and the related genus Vigna. The term is now applied in a general way to many other related plants such as soybeans, peas, lentils, kidney beans, vetches and lupins.
Bean can be used as a near synonym of pulse, an edible legume, though the term "pulses" is usually reserved for leguminous crops harvested for their dry grain. Pulses usually excludes crops mainly used for oil extraction (like soybean and peanut) or those used exclusively for sowing purposes (clover and alfalfa). Leguminous crops harvested green for food, such as snap beans, green peas etc, are classified as vegetable crops.
In English usage 'beans' sometimes also refer to seeds or other organs of non leguminosae which bear a resemblance to the vegetable, for example coffee beans, castor beans and cocoa beans (which resemble bean seeds), and vanilla beans (which resemble the pods).