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noun (1)

ale·​wife ˈāl-ˌwīf How to pronounce alewife (audio)
: a woman who keeps an alehouse


2 of 2

noun (2)

plural alewives ˈāl-ˌwīvz How to pronounce alewife (audio)
: a food fish (Alosa pseudoharengus) of the herring family that is very abundant along the Atlantic coast
also : any of several related fishes (such as the menhaden)

Examples of alewife in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
The Council got back to work and a bill amending an act regulating the shad and alewife fisheries was passed that day, Philips wrote. Martin Finucane,, 23 Aug. 2023 The small fish such as alewife and rainbow smelt are also subject to predation by predator fish such as chinook salmon and lake trout. Paul A. Smith, Journal Sentinel, 8 Apr. 2023 Hutchinson and his colleagues were able to watch this kind of change in Connecticut lakes thanks to the comings and goings of a fish called the alewife. Carl Zimmer, Discover Magazine, 31 Mar. 2011 The alewife, another invasive species, then overpopulated the lake and spoiled beaches in massive die-offs through the 1950s and 60s. Paul A. Smith, Journal Sentinel, 11 Sep. 2022 The Lake Michigan salmon and trout fishery is dominated by non-native species introduced in the 1960s to help reduce the number of alewife, a small invasive fish that died by the millions and fouled beaches. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 28 Nov. 2021 The diversity in steelhead food choices puts less strain on the lake's alewife population, which is the preferred forage for chinook salmon, the most stocked and fastest growing species in the lake, and makes steelhead more likely to survive potential downturns in prey fish numbers. Paul A. Smith, Journal Sentinel, 2 Jan. 2023 That restoration effort sputtered for decades — until the alewife population started to fade., 2 Sep. 2021 In the 1960s, biologists audaciously began stocking the Great Lakes with Pacific salmon to destroy an Atlantic alewife infestation — and build a multibillion-dollar recreational fishery., 2 Sep. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'alewife.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun (2)

perhaps alteration of obsolete allowes, a kind of shad, from French alose shad, from Old French, from Late Latin alausa

First Known Use

Noun (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1633, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of alewife was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near alewife

Cite this Entry

“Alewife.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a food fish that is related to the herrings and is common along the Atlantic coast of the U.S.

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