ca·​val·​la kə-ˈva-lə How to pronounce cavalla (audio)
plural cavalla or cavallas
or less commonly cavally : any of various carangid fishes

Word History


borrowed from Spanish caballa "mackerel (Scomber scombrus or Scomber colias)," feminine derivative of caballo "horse," going back to Latin caballus "work horse, gelding" — more at cavalcade

Note: According to Joan Coromines (Diccionario crítico etimológico castellano e hispánico) Spanish caballa was originally applied to a species of flying fish, from its supposed resemblance to a horse. This seems somewhat unlikely, and in any case the application of animal names to fish varieties in other instances appears to lack obvious semantic motivation (compare redhorse).

First Known Use

1624, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of cavalla was in 1624

Dictionary Entries Near cavalla

Cite this Entry

“Cavalla.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on cavalla

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