ale-wife

alewife

1 [eyl-wahyf]
noun, plural alewives.
a North American fish, Alosa pseudoharengus, resembling a small shad.

Origin:
1625–35, Americanism; earlier allowes, perhaps influenced by alewife2, probably < French alose shad < Gallo-Latin alausa

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alewife

2 [eyl-wahyf]
noun, plural alewives.
a woman who owns or operates an alehouse.

Origin:
1350–1400; Middle English; see ale, wife

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
alewife (ˈeɪlˌwaɪf)
 
n , pl -wives
a North American fish, Pomolobus pseudoharengus, similar to the herring Clupea harengus: family Clupeidae (herrings)
 
[C19: perhaps an alteration (through influence of alewife, that is, a large rotund woman, alluding to the fish's shape) of French alose shad]

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Word Origin & History

alewife
herring-like fish of N.America, 1630s, named for M.E. word for female tavern keepers; so called in reference to its large abdomen.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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