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 The popular trifecta of salmon, oysters and Dungeness crab are well covered, and there is also a wide range of recipes for halibut, rockfish, Pacific cod, albacore tuna and black cod as well as locally farmed options like trout, mussels and clams. Janelle Bitker, SFChronicle.com, "The San Francisco Chronicle’s best cookbooks of 2019," 29 Nov. 2019 About 30 halibut were entered this year, according to Amy Woodruff of the chamber. Anchorage Daily News, "North Dakota man wins final Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby," 20 Sep. 2019 Meanwhile, halibut in these waters have declined, and smelts – an important food for seabirds – have crashed. Hal Bernton, The Seattle Times, "As Bering Sea ice melts, Alaskans, scientists and Seattle’s fishing fleet witness changes ‘on a massive scale’," 15 Sep. 2019 Among the offerings are such diverse dishes as burgers and steak frites, salads, cheese dumplings, fried chicken marinated in Tikka Masala curry, lobster tagliatelle, seared salmon and halibut, and chateaubriand. Joan Wilder, BostonGlobe.com, "Salt Raw Bar offers flavors from around the world," 24 July 2019 In the bay, people can fish for halibut, sea bass, striped bass, perch, mackerel, rockfish and more, according to Cosgrove Mould, boat handler for Capitola Boat and Bait. Elaine Ingalls, The Mercury News, "Capitola named one of nation’s most unspoiled vacation spots," 22 July 2019 Advertising But the halibut often are smaller than when the village’s commercial harvests began back in the 1990s. Hal Bernton, The Seattle Times, "As Bering Sea ice melts, Alaskans, scientists and Seattle’s fishing fleet witness changes ‘on a massive scale’," 15 Sep. 2019 Gee weaves French, Japanese, and Korean techniques and dishes with local ingredients, resulting in selections like oil-poached halibut with black bean sauce or dry-aged beef tartare with chili oil and pickled mustard. Fortune, "Vancouver Is a Haven for Cheap but Delicious Tasting Menus," 18 Aug. 2019 Sea bass and swordfish steaks are good substitutes for the halibut. Washington Post, "Foolproof way to perfectly cooked fish? Try your Dutch oven," 10 July 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

27 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Halibut.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/halibut. Accessed 19 January 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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