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 Scheveningen residents mourned the five deceased surfers Tuesday by laying wreaths of flowers at the seaside, and by sharing on social media pictures of five herrings on a dark background — a reference to the city’s flag, which has three fish. Elian Peltier, BostonGlobe.com, "Several surfers are found dead in the Netherlands," 12 May 2020 There’s been some scientific debate about whether the spill was entirely to blame for the crash or the fact that the herring haven’t rebounded in the 25 years since the spill, but that’s beside the point. al, "10 years after Deepwater Horizon disaster: Along Alabama’s Gulf Coast, questions, and work, go on," 19 Apr. 2020 Kodiak’s roe herring fishery is still underway with catches topping 1,500 tons. Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska halibut gets battered by foreign imports - including a new Russian fishery," 12 May 2020 Good natural sources of vitamin D include oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel, red meat, liver, egg yolks and fortified food like some breakfast cereals. Katie Hunt, CNN, "Take vitamin D while you stay at home during the pandemic, Britons urged," 23 Apr. 2020 But sometimes, those big fish full of the worms—like salmon or herring—get intercepted by fishers and end up in markets. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "This Parasitic Worm Commonly Found in Sushi is Thriving in Nature," 4 Apr. 2020 There are a number of websites that provide information on how to identify juvenile Asian carp from native species such as shad and herring. Colin Moore, Outdoor Life, "These 8 Aquatic Invasive Species are Threatening Fisheries Across the U.S.," 7 Feb. 2020 My own view is that some indirect, delayed instability related to oiling likely did impact those herring, although menhaden – an analogous fish in the Gulf of Mexico - have not shown signs of collapse following the Deepwater Horizon spill. F. Joel Fodrie, The Conversation, "Coastal fish populations didn’t crash after the Deepwater Horizon spill – why not?," 16 Apr. 2020 For thousands of years, alewives and blueback herring have left the ocean to swim up the Hudson River to any one of scores of tributaries to lay their eggs. Lisa W. Foderaro, New York Times, "It’s Fish vs. Dams, and the Dams Are Winning," 20 Jan. 2020

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

3 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Herring.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/herring. Accessed 14 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for herring


How to pronounce herring (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on herring

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with herring

Spanish Central: Translation of herring

Nglish: Translation of herring for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about herring

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