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[her-ing] /ˈhɛr ɪŋ/
noun, plural (especially collectively) herring (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) herrings.
an important food fish, Clupea harengus harengus, found in enormous shoals in the North Atlantic.
a similar fish, Clupea harengus pallasii, of the North Pacific.
any fish of the family Clupeidae, including herrings, shads, and sardines.
any of various fishes resembling the herring but of unrelated families.
Origin of herring
before 900; Middle English hering, Old English hǣring; cognate with German Häring
Related forms
herringlike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for herring
  • In my view, juxtaposing these two choices is a red herring.
  • Goldman's barramundi need only a half pound, the bulk of which is made from scraps from a herring processing plant.
  • The who-wrote-what question is, however, a red herring.
  • The tonnage bounties given to the white-herring and whale-fisheries may, perhaps, be considered as somewhat of this nature.
  • Sure, there are many other competing priorities as well, but this one is the great red herring.
  • Another red herring, maybe not even a herring, maybe a red minnow.
  • Patterson above waves a red herring: no one suggested canceling the sporting event and using the money for academics.
  • The question of for-profit or not-for-profit is a red herring.
  • Or maybe a giant bowl of spaghetti speckled with chunks of tomatoes and herring.
  • Nobody told me that lox lived a double life as smoked salmon, or that herring could ever be kippered.
British Dictionary definitions for herring


noun (pl) -rings, -ring
any marine soft-finned teleost fish of the family Clupeidae, esp Clupea harengus, an important food fish of northern seas, having an elongated body covered, except in the head region, with large fragile silvery scales
Word Origin
Old English hǣring; related to Old High German hāring, Old Frisian hēring, Dutch haring
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for herring

Old English hering (Anglian), hæring (West Saxon), from West Germanic *heringgaz (cf. Old Frisian hereng, Middle Dutch herinc, German Hering), of unknown origin, perhaps related to or influenced in form by Old English har "gray, hoar," from the color, or to Old High German heri "host, multitude" from its large schools.

French hareng, Italian aringa are from Germanic. The Battle of the Herrings (French bataille des harengs) is the popular name for the battle at Rouvrai, Feb. 12, 1492, fought in defense of a convoy of provisions, mostly herrings and other "lenten stuffe."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with herring
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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