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

This year, more than 2,600 lamprey were counted making the journey upriver to breed. Kale Williams,, "Pacific lamprey show signs of recovery in Umatilla River," 13 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 Scientists have come to understand the instinctual part of our brain in part by studying lampreys. Nick Heil, Outside Online, "Blame Your Junk Food Cravings on Your Unhealthy Brain," 3 July 2018 In 2015, the agency sent crews to inspect the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair for lampreys. Detroit Free Press Staff, Detroit Free Press, "Scientists on the hunt for blood-sucking sea lampreys in metro Detroit," 22 May 2018 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 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 The only ones known that are so endowed are the lampreys. The Economist, "Three-eyed lizards are not uncommon. Four-eyed ones are a novelty," 5 Apr. 2018 So Holmes and his colleagues looked at nearly 190 creatures in other vertebrate classes — from jawless fish such as lampreys, which have changed little from their evolutionary ancestors, to reptiles such as turtles. Giorgia Guglielmi, Scientific American, "Huge Trove of Unknown Viruses Found in Fish, Frogs and Reptiles," 5 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about lamprey

Statistics for lamprey

Last Updated

23 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for lamprey

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on lamprey

Spanish Central: Translation of lamprey

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

Comments on lamprey

What made you want to look up lamprey? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to affect and impair by alcohol or a drug

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!