hal·​i·​but | \ ˈha-lə-bət How to pronounce halibut (audio) also ˈhä- \
plural halibut also halibuts

Definition of halibut

: any of several marine flatfishes (especially Hippoglossus hippoglossus of the Atlantic and H. stenolepis of the Pacific) that are widely used for food and include some of the largest bony fishes

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Among the different kinds of fish found in the world’s oceans is a group called the flatfish. Flatfish are well named, for they have flattened bodies with both eyes on the upper side of the head. In Middle English the word for flatfish was butte. During the Middle Ages, fish was often eaten on holy days in place of meat. The most popular fish for the holy days was the largest variety of flatfish, or “butte.” Thus, this particular fish came to be called in Middle English halybutte, meaning literally “holy flatfish,” from haly, a form of holy, and butte. In modern English the spelling has been changed to halibut.

Examples of halibut in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Ousland and his small staff also sustainably harvest cod and halibut; hunt for moose, elk, and deer in season; raise sheep; grow potatoes, carrots, berries, and herbs; and buy local meat and cheese produced in the surrounding region. Stephanie Pearson, Outside Online, 3 Sep. 2019 More fishing boats are on the water with the start of the Pacific halibut and sablefish (black cod) fisheries on March 6, followed by Alaska’s first big herring fishery at Sitka Sound. Laine Welch | Fish Factor, Anchorage Daily News, 7 Mar. 2022 Tyler Laferriere and Travis Holloway’s wedding last month at a California resort featured sweeping views of the Santa Rosa Mountains, spicy margaritas and a menu of steak, bass and halibut. Washington Post, 10 Apr. 2022 Using a spatula, transfer the halibut to a serving platter. Washington Post, 15 Mar. 2022 Bycatch is the incidental harvest of fish like salmon and halibut by commercial operators that cannot be processed or sold. Zachariah Hughes, Anchorage Daily News, 8 Jan. 2022 Seiichi Yokota, a seventh-generation fisherman in Gardena, Calif., sells local seafood like rockfish, black cod and halibut to restaurants including Niki Nakayama’s magnificent kaiseki restaurant n/naka. New York Times, 4 Jan. 2022 The average halibut price paid to Alaska fishermen in 2021 was $6.40/lb with a fishery value topping $109 million. Laine Welch | Fish Factor, Anchorage Daily News, 7 Feb. 2022 Finest, the bottom trawl fleet that starting in 2023 will be required for the first time to reduce its take of millions of pounds of halibut bycatch. Laine Welch | Fish Factor, Anchorage Daily News, 22 Dec. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of halibut

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for halibut

Middle English halybutte, from haly, holy holy + butte flatfish, from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German but; from its being eaten on holy days

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The first known use of halibut was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

9 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Halibut.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/halibut. Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for halibut


hal·​i·​but | \ ˈha-lə-bət How to pronounce halibut (audio) \
plural halibut or halibuts

Kids Definition of halibut

: a very large saltwater flatfish often used for food

More from Merriam-Webster on halibut

Nglish: Translation of halibut for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about halibut


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