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c.1300, "pale," from Old Norse bleikr "pale, whitish, blond," from Proto-Germanic *blaika- "shining, white," from PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn" (see bleach (v.)). Later "bare, windswept" (1530s). Sense of "cheerless" is c.1719 figurative extension. The same Germanic root produced Old English blac "pale," but this died out, probably from confusion with blæc "black;" however bleak persisted, with a sense of "bare" as well as "pale."
(Alburnus alburnus), small, slender fish of the carp family, Cyprinidae, found in rivers and lakes of England and Europe. A silvery-green fish, it grows to a maximum length of about 20 centimetres (8 inches). It lives in schools, usually near the surface, and eats aquatic invertebrates. The bleak is edible but bony. Its scales are used in eastern Europe for the manufacture of artificial pearls.