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[kap-uh-lin] /ˈkæp ə lɪn/
either of two small fishes of the smelt family, Mallotus villosus, of coastal North American waters, or M. catervarius, of the North Pacific.
Also, caplin.
1610-20, Americanism; < Middle French capelan < Old Provençal: codfish, literally, chaplain Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for capelin
  • They prey on squid and small schooling fish such as capelin, sardines, and herring.
  • They feed on krill and small schooling fish, such as capelin and herring.
British Dictionary definitions for capelin


a small marine food fish, Mallotus villosus, occurring in northern and Arctic seas: family Osmeridae (smelts)
Word Origin
C17: from French capelan, from Old Provençal, literally: chaplain
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Encyclopedia Article for capelin

(Mallotus villosus), marine food fish, a species of smelt, in the family Osmeridae (order Salmoniformes). The capelin is an inhabitant of cold Arctic seas around the world but extends southward to coastal waters in the northern temperate regions. Unlike many other species of smelt, the capelin does not enter freshwater to spawn but lays its eggs instead close inshore, even on the wave-washed gravel of beaches. Like other smelt, however, capelin are sleek, slender fishes with olive-green backs and silvery white bellies. They have small scales and large eyes and do not reach lengths of more than about 20 cm (8 inches). Capelins are exceedingly abundant and are eaten by a great variety of other fishes, seabirds, and mammals.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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