hal·​i·​but | \ ˈha-lə-bət also ˈhä- How to pronounce halibut (audio) \
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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Did You Know?

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 Thurman doesn’t keep tuna in her larder, or sardines, not after 35 years in a city devoted to the harvest of halibut and salmon. Sam Sifton, New York Times, "Everyone’s Talking About Canned Tuna. Here’s How to Make It Delicious.," 18 Mar. 2020 Finish with a steaming bowl of bouillabaisse, made with local halibut and wild prawns, at the resort's Lagoon Restaurant. Terry Ward, Condé Nast Traveler, "A British Columbia Road Trip With Forest Views and Craft Brews," 26 Feb. 2020 Greek-Style Halibut All the flavors of the Greek Isles (fennel, tomatoes, garlic, chickpeas) are a great complement to the subtle flavor of halibut. Sunset Magazine, "The Recipes You Should Be Cooking This March," 26 Feb. 2020 Cruise along British Columbia's coast with Maple Leaf Adventures and fish for cod or halibut. Ginger Dingus, USA TODAY, "15 things you can do on an expedition cruise that you can't do on a big ship," 23 Jan. 2020 Place the halibut fillet in a small tray or bowl, generously cover the fish with the curing solution, and refrigerate overnight. Michael A. Gardiner, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Unrushed rice is key to success with homemade sushi," 6 Aug. 2019 Time for those big, out of state fishing boats to share in halibut conservation. Anchorage Daily News, "Picks and pans for Alaska’s seafood industry in 2019," 7 Jan. 2020 Anthony Bourdain hawking halibut stew to define Collateralized Debt Obligation? Jason Herbert, Smithsonian Magazine, "What Were the Best History Movies of the Decade?," 31 Dec. 2019 Thanks to host committee members including Lori Sarofim, Phyllis Williams, Kristina Somerville, Hallie Vanderhider and more, the group hit six figures long before surf n' turf beef tenderloin and Alaskan halibut entrees landed on plates. Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, "Jim Crane replaces Shaquille O'Neal, helps raise record $1.3 million at Grand Slam for TEACH," 20 Nov. 2019

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.

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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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Time Traveler for halibut

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for halibut

Last Updated

21 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Halibut.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/halibut. Accessed 7 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for halibut


How to pronounce halibut (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of halibut

: a large fish of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans that is often eaten as food


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

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More from Merriam-Webster on halibut

Spanish Central: Translation of halibut

Nglish: Translation of halibut for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about halibut

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