noun \ˈher-iŋ, ˈhe-riŋ\

: a fish that lives in the northern Atlantic Ocean and is often eaten as food

plural herring or herrings

Full Definition of HERRING

:  either of two food fishes (genus Clupeus):
a :  one (C. harengus) that is abundant in the temperate and colder parts of the North Atlantic and that in the adult state is preserved by smoking or salting and in the young state is extensively canned and sold as sardines
b :  one (C. pallasi syn. C. h. pallasi) of the North Pacific harvested especially for its roe
:  any of a large family (Clupeidae) of soft-finned bony fishes (as the herrings, shads, sardines, and menhadens) that have a laterally compressed body and a forked tail and usually occur in schools

Origin of HERRING

Middle English hering, from Old English ̄ring; akin to Old High German hārinc herring
First Known Use: before 12th century


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Either the Atlantic or the Pacific subspecies of Clupea harengus (once considered two separate species), slab-sided, northern fishes that are small-headed and streamlined, with silvery iridescent sides and a deep-blue, metallic-hued back. The name also refers to some other members of the family Clupeidae. Adults range in length from 8 to 15 in. (20–38 cm). One of the most abundant species of fish, herring travel in enormous schools. They eat planktonic crustaceans and fish larvae. In Europe they are processed and sold as kippered herring; in eastern Canada and the northeastern U.S., most of the herring used are young fishes canned as sardines. Herring taken in the Pacific are used mainly to make fish oil and meal.


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