her·​ring | \ ˈher-iŋ How to pronounce herring (audio) , ˈhe-riŋ \
plural herring or herrings

Definition of herring

1 : either of two food fishes (genus Clupeus):
a : one (C. harengus) that is abundant in the temperate and colder parts of the North Atlantic and that in the adult state is preserved by smoking or salting and in the young state is extensively canned and sold as sardines
b : one (C. pallasi synonym C. h. pallasi) of the North Pacific harvested especially for its roe
2 : any of a large family (Clupeidae) of soft-finned bony fishes (such as the herrings, shads, sardines, and menhadens) that have a laterally compressed body and a forked tail and usually occur in schools

Examples of herring in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Surströmming is made from Baltic sea herring, which is fermented in a weak brine for at least six months. David Nikel, Forbes, 5 June 2021 In New Zealand, orcas eat stingrays; in the Norwegian arctic, orcas prefer herring; and in Patagonia, orcas favor sea lion pups. Emilie Richardson, ABC News, 22 Apr. 2021 Word on the docks is that the herring are fetching $300 per ton for fishermen, or about 6 cents a pound. Anchorage Daily News, 19 Apr. 2021 The larger of the dam’s two lifts was shut down last year from March to May, a key part of the spawning season for shad and herring, because of COVID-19. Christine Condon, baltimoresun.com, 22 Apr. 2021 The job of the orca whales here is to herd the herring into a ball—no easy trick. Dorothy Rabinowitz, WSJ, 15 Apr. 2021 Plimoth Grist Mill in Plymouth sets up stations from 1-4 p.m. for kids to make fish artwork as everyone cheers on the herring. BostonGlobe.com, 8 Apr. 2021 The morning menu included omelets, grits, salami and eggs, bagels with nova and cream cheese, herring and cheese blintzes. Mary Colurso | Mcolurso@al.com, al, 7 Apr. 2021 Beyond salmon, other choices in omega-3-rich include mackerel (Atlantic and Pacific), trout, herring, sardines, anchovies, albacore tuna, mussels and oysters. Darlene Zimmerman, Detroit Free Press, 4 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'herring.' 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 herring

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

History and Etymology for herring

Middle English hering, from Old English hǣring; akin to Old High German hārinc herring

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Time Traveler for herring

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for herring

Last Updated

8 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Herring.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/herring. Accessed 20 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for herring



English Language Learners Definition of herring

: a fish that lives in the northern Atlantic Ocean and is often eaten as food


her·​ring | \ ˈher-iŋ How to pronounce herring (audio) \

Kids Definition of herring

: a fish of the northern Atlantic Ocean that is often used for food

More from Merriam-Webster on herring

Nglish: Translation of herring for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about herring


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