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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
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In one day 1,500 lasts of herring had been brought into the harbour.

    Yarmouth Notes Frederick Danby Palmer
  • You are as thin as a French herring, you know, with a yard and a half of throat.

    The Channings Mrs. Henry Wood
  • Minke whales feed primarily on small shoal fish (herring, cod, pollack, and capelin).

  • They hung around her like a passel of gulls around a herring boat.

    Cape Cod Stories Joseph C. Lincoln
  • In like manner, in the great depths, beneath the most enormous weights, live the herring and the Cod.

    The Sea Jules Michelet
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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