lam·​prey | \ ˈlam-prē How to pronounce lamprey (audio) , -ˌprā \
plural lampreys

Definition of lamprey

: any of a family (Petromyzontidae) of eel-shaped freshwater or anadromous jawless fishes that include those cyclostomes having well-developed eyes and a large disk-shaped suctorial mouth armed with horny teeth

called also lamprey eel

Examples of lamprey in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Having explored its new environment, the lamprey settled onto the pebbles at the bottom of the tank. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Why the World Needs Bloodsucking Creatures," 2 Dec. 2019 Staff members, their hands protected with gloves, carefully lifted one of the lampreys and plopped it into a tall tank. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Why the World Needs Bloodsucking Creatures," 2 Dec. 2019 The good news, however, is that lamprey numbers are dropping some. John Myers, Twin Cities, "Parasitic sea lamprey numbers remain too high in Lake Superior," 13 Nov. 2019 The department says the larval lamprey live in freshwater for a few years burrowed in sandy substrate. USA TODAY, "Black Hills yaks, serious senioritis on campus, Pony Express: News from around our 50 states," 10 June 2019 Sea lions now eat about 22 percent of the winter steelhead and almost 10 percent of spring Chinook, along with significant quantities of lamprey and coho. Sallie Tisdale, Harper's magazine, "Catechism of the Waters," 10 June 2019 This may help the lake steelheads recover from parasitic lampreys, which are widespread in that fresh water. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "This saltwater trout evolved to live in fresh water—in just 100 years," 1 June 2018 Failure to detect and subsequently eliminate larvae allows the lampreys to transform into parasitic adults and kill Great Lakes fish. Detroit Free Press Staff, Detroit Free Press, "Scientists on the hunt for blood-sucking sea lampreys in metro Detroit," 22 May 2018 Sturgeon fishing remains excellent with salmon roe or lamprey eel in Suisun Bay for the few guides still working the area. sacbee, "Fishing line: Striper action takes off near Colusa and on Feather River | The Sacramento Bee," 23 Apr. 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for lamprey

Middle English, from Anglo-French lampreie, from Medieval Latin lampreda

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Time Traveler for lamprey

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for lamprey

Last Updated

9 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Lamprey.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for lamprey


lam·​prey | \ ˈlam-prē How to pronounce lamprey (audio) \
plural lampreys

Kids Definition of lamprey

: a water animal that looks like an eel but has a sucking mouth with no jaws

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More from Merriam-Webster on lamprey

Spanish Central: Translation of lamprey

Nglish: Translation of lamprey for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about lamprey

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