eel

noun
\ˈēl \

Definition of eel 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : any of numerous voracious elongate snakelike bony fishes (order Anguilliformes) that have a smooth slimy skin, lack pelvic fins, and have the median fins confluent around the tail — compare american eel

b : any of numerous other elongate fishes (as of the order Synbranchiformes)

2 : any of various nematodes (such as the vinegar eel)

eel

verb
eeled; eeling; eels

Definition of eel (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : to fish for eels — see also eeling

b : to fish with eels as bait

2 : to move or make (one's way) sinuously or insidiously : worm Stories my Russian friends had told me about the hundreds who were trampled at Stalin's funeral came back to me. Finally, we gave up and eeled our way out of there.— Ian Frazier

Illustration of eel

Illustration of eel

Noun

eel 1a

In the meaning defined above

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Other Words from eel

Noun

eellike \ˈēl-​ˌlīk \ adjective
eely \ˈē-​lē \ adjective

Did You Know?

There are more than 500 fish species known as eels. They are slender, elongated, and usually scaleless, with long dorsal and anal fi ns that are continuous around the tail tip. Eels are found in all seas, from coastal regions to the mid-depths. Freshwater eels are active, predatory fish with small embedded scales. They grow to maturity in freshwater and return to the sea, where they spawn and die. The transparent young drift to the coast and make their way upstream. Freshwater eels, considered valuable food fish, include species ranging from 4 in (10 cm) to about 111⁄2 ft (3.5 m) long.

Examples of eel in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The more than 400 kinds of seafood sold at the market come from all over Japan and abroad, including octopus, eel, sea urchin and other items special to Japanese cuisine. Yuri Kageyama, The Seattle Times, "Official: Move of Japan fish market could have been better," 16 Oct. 2018 Moments of scientific discovery are not usually caught on film, but this clip of marine biologists finding a gulper eel in the Pacific Ocean is a rare and delightful exception. James Vincent, The Verge, "The most heartwarming video you’ll see today is of scientists cooing over this rare eel," 21 Sep. 2018 The group first spot the eel as just another dark shape that’s caught by the lights of their remote robot. James Vincent, The Verge, "The most heartwarming video you’ll see today is of scientists cooing over this rare eel," 21 Sep. 2018 Monk seals dine on nearly the entire buffet of foods offered in the mid-Pacific Ocean, from octopus to eel to lobster to benthic fish, any of which could be infected. Kim Steutermann Rogers, Smithsonian, "How the Tiniest of Parasites is Taking Down the Mightiest of Monk Seals," 9 July 2018 Broiled eel over rice makes a wonderfully soothing meal. New York Times, "The Restaurant That Became Japan’s Unofficial Ambassador," 3 July 2018 There was the black five-inch slow roller shad, a chartreuse five-inch shad, the five-inch slow roller eels, a seven-inch herring prototype. John Peabody, New York Times, "A Growing Brooklyn Fishing Scene, Artisanal Lures Included," 28 June 2018 The lesser siren is a two-legged salamander, that looks like an eel. Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star, "You might find this creepy, eel-like critter in Indiana waterways," 18 June 2018 Fishermen have sold more than $20 million worth of the eels so far this season, according to the Maine Department of Marine Resources. Washington Post, "Eels break records in Maine, where they sell for big money," 20 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

These men eel entitled and had been protected from being outed. James Warren, vanityfair.com, "How Hollywood Will Change After Weinstein," 20 Oct. 2017 These men eel entitled and had been protected from being outed. James Warren, The Hive, "How Hollywood Will Change After Weinstein," 20 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'eel.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of eel

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1922, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for eel

Noun

Middle English ele, from Old English ǣl; akin to Old High German āl eel

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Dictionary Entries near eel

EEC

EEG

eek

eel

eel-back flounder

eelboat

eel cat

Statistics for eel

Last Updated

2 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for eel

The first known use of eel was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for eel

eel

noun
\ˈēl \

Kids Definition of eel

: a long fish that looks like a snake and has smooth slimy skin

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More from Merriam-Webster on eel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with eel

Spanish Central: Translation of eel

Nglish: Translation of eel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of eel for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about eel

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