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
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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
Eggs caught in the receding waters of the tide are snatched up by crabs, eels
  and minnows.
In the wild, fathead minnows establish nests, which males defend from rivals.
When one is hungry, chances of eating are better looking for minnows that
  gunning for the big whale.
The swirling pattern made by the crowd on the beach has the organic coherence
  of a shoal of minnows or a flock of gulls.
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