Denotation vs. Connotation


[mak-er-uh l, mak-ruh l] /ˈmæk ər əl, ˈmæk rəl/
noun, plural (especially collectively) mackerel (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) mackerels.
a food fish, Scomber scombrus, of the North Atlantic, having wavy cross markings on the back.
any of various similar fishes, as the Atka mackerel.
Origin of mackerel
1250-1300; Middle English < Old French, perhaps same word as Middle French maquerel pimp < Middle Dutch makelare broker (by metathesis), equivalent to makel(en) to bring together + -are -er1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for mackerel
Historical Examples
  • There may be a single caecum (crossopterygians, Ammodytes amongst Teleosts) or there may be nearly two hundred (mackerel).

  • Say, John, couldn't you subpoena a school of mackerel for me?

    Thankful's Inheritance Joseph C. Lincoln
  • At such times the mackerel resemble famished wolves, snapping and crowding for the bait, rather than harmless fishes.

  • The piece de resistance of the dinner was, in this instance, to be a mackerel.

    Shavings Joseph C. Lincoln
  • By nine o'clock Leopold was fast asleep, for he and Stumpy had arranged to try the mackerel again the next morning.

    The Coming Wave Oliver Optic
  • Oh, I hope there wan't any bones in that mackerel Heman's cat got away with.

    Shavings Joseph C. Lincoln
  • The mackerel brigade have got their new uniforms, and they are not the martial garments it would do to get fat in.

  • If you'd told him he'd been swallowed by a mackerel he wouldn't have said no.

    Mary-'Gusta Joseph C. Lincoln
  • The mackerel were there in their hundreds—in their thousands.

    The Pursuit Frank (Frank Mackenzie) Savile
  • Its occupant had just departed for a week's cruise as mate of a mackerel schooner.

    Keziah Coffin Joseph C. Lincoln
British Dictionary definitions for mackerel


noun (pl) -rel, -rels
a spiny-finned food fish, Scomber scombrus, occurring in northern coastal regions of the Atlantic and in the Mediterranean: family Scombridae. It has a deeply forked tail and a greenish-blue body marked with wavy dark bands on the back Compare Spanish mackerel (sense 1)
any of various other fishes of the family Scombridae, such as Scomber colias (Spanish mackerel) and S. japonicus (Pacific mackerel)
Word Origin
C13: from Anglo-French, from Old French maquerel, of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for mackerel

edible fish, c.1300, from Old French maquerel "mackerel" (Modern French maquereau), of unknown origin but apparently identical with Old French maquerel "pimp, procurer, broker, agent, intermediary," a word from a Germanic source (cf. Middle Dutch makelaer "broker," from Old Frisian mek "marriage," from maken "to make"). The connection is obscure, but medieval people had imaginative notions about the erotic habits of beasts. The fish approach the shore in shoals in summertime to spawn. Exclamation holy mackerel is attested from 1876.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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