noun, plural (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) minnows (especially collectively, Rare) minnow for 1, 2, 3.
a small, European cyprinoid fish, Phoxinus phoxinus.
any other fish of the family Cyprinidae, including the carps, goldfishes, and daces.
any of various unrelated, small fishes.
a person or thing that is comparatively small or insignificant.

1325–75; Middle English minwe, Old English *mynwe (feminine) for myne (masculine); cognate with Old High German munewa kind of fish

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World English Dictionary
minnow (ˈmɪnəʊ)
n , pl -nows, -now
1.  a small slender European freshwater cyprinid fish, Phoxinus phoxinus
2.  any other small cyprinid
3.  angling a spinning lure imitating a minnow
4.  a small or insignificant person
[C15: related to Old English myne minnow; compare Old High German muniwa fish]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

c.1420, probably related to O.E. myne, earlier *mynwe, a name for some kind of fish, from P.Gmc. *muniwon (cf. M.L.G. möne, Du. meun, O.H.G. mun(i)wa, Ger. Münne), of unknown origin. Perhaps infl. in M.E. by Fr. menu "small."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
The ghastly minnow is part of the largest family of freshwater fish-but so far its fangs are unique.
No one expects anything but a rout when a minnow meets a rugby power.
The basic minnow method of feeding is pipette feeding.
The plains minnow is similar to the western silvery minnow in many features.
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