\ ˈsmelt How to pronounce smelt (audio) \
plural smelts or smelt

Definition of smelt

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: any of a family (Osmeridae) of small bony fishes that closely resemble the trouts in general structure, live along coasts and ascend rivers to spawn or are landlocked, and have delicate oily flesh with a distinctive odor and taste


smelted; smelting; smelts

Definition of smelt (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to melt or fuse (a substance, such as ore) often with an accompanying chemical change usually to separate the metal
2 : refine, reduce


Definition of smelt (Entry 3 of 3)

chiefly British past participle of smell entry 1

Examples of smelt in a Sentence

Verb the process used for smelting iron ore
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun All of that may change soon, since growing evidence suggests that the Delta smelt is now effectively extinct in the wild. David Owen, The New Yorker, 11 May 2022 In 1928 smelt were reported caught in gill nets near Little Sturgeon Bay in Door County. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 26 Mar. 2022 Washington has approved a five-hour smelt-dipping season for Saturday on the banks (only) of the Cowlitz River. Bill Monroe, oregonlive, 2 Mar. 2022 For centuries, Tolowa people lived in balance with the elk that roamed free, the smelt that returned each summer and the thousands of Aleutian geese that once fanned across the forested coast. Los Angeles Times, 20 Dec. 2021 But Michigan scientists were puzzled when the little smelt showed higher levels of PFOS than larger, predator fish such as lake trout. Shantal Riley, Washington Post, 12 Jan. 2022 Even with all the rain and snow, California is throttling back pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta — the heart of the state’s water delivery network — to protect the Delta smelt. Los Angeles Times, 6 Jan. 2022 The young bird spreads its wings, bends down, and snatches the smelt. Melody Bentz, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 July 2021 Breese puts a smelt in a hole at the end of the bamboo pole and extends the fish up to a white tern perched on a branch above her head. Melody Bentz, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb During the Bronze Age, before people figured out how to smelt iron from rock, the only widely available source of iron was meteoric—hunks of it fallen from space. Steven Poole, WSJ, 23 Mar. 2022 To better understand this, think of a fairy-tale kingdom where the royal alchemist succeeded in turning lead into gold, and the delighted king ordered the royal mint to smelt more coins with it. Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, 2 Feb. 2022 Lomeli added that the lights have also proven effective at reducing bycatch of eulachon (Pacific smelt) and juvenile rockfish and flatfish in the shrimp trawl fishery off Oregon. Lynne Curry, Anchorage Daily News, 13 Dec. 2021 Miner Rio Tinto announced plans in October to deploy CCUS technology at its aluminum smelt in Iceland. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, 12 Dec. 2021 According to English Heritage, Britain’s Bronze Age began around 2300 B.C.E. During this period, ancient Britons mined copper and tin to smelt into axes, chisels, hammers, sickles and other tools. David Kindy, Smithsonian Magazine, 29 Nov. 2021 There's so much copper cabling in my garage, the French government could smelt me a statue of Steve Jobs to erect in San Francisco Bay. Parker Hall, Wired, 18 Oct. 2021 Metz said that Vista sources its copper from fabricators who buy it from the mines and smelt it into strips and ingots. Aaron Smith, Forbes, 10 June 2021 The pizzas will feature proteins that aren’t usually used such as pork jowl and smelt. Tanay Warerkar, San Francisco Chronicle, 25 May 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'smelt.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of smelt


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above


1543, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for smelt


Middle English, from Old English; akin to Norwegian smelte whiting


Dutch or Low German smelten; akin to Old High German smelzan to melt, Old English meltan — more at melt

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

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Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Smelt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for smelt


\ ˈsmelt How to pronounce smelt (audio) \
plural smelts or smelt

Kids Definition of smelt

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a small silvery fish that is sometimes used for food


smelted; smelting

Kids Definition of smelt (Entry 2 of 2)

: to melt (as ore) in order to separate the metal : refine

More from Merriam-Webster on smelt

Nglish: Translation of smelt for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of smelt for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about smelt


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