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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."