noun, plural (especially collectively) shad (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) shads.
a deep-bodied herring, Alosa sapidissima, of Europe and North America, that migrates up streams to spawn, used for food.
any other fish of the genus Alosa or related genera.
any of several unrelated fishes.

before 1050; Old English sceadd (not recorded in ME) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
shad (ʃæd)
n , pl shad, shads
1.  any of various herring-like food fishes of the genus Alosa and related genera, such as A. alosa (allis shad) of Europe, that migrate from the sea to freshwater to spawn: family Clupeidae (herrings)
2.  any of various similar but unrelated fishes
[Old English sceadd; related to Norwegian skadd, German Schade shad, Old Irish scatān herring, Latin scatēre to well up]

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

O.E. sceadd, possibly from Scand. (cf. Norw. dialectal skadd "small whitefish"); but cf. Welsh ysgadan (pl.), Ir., Gael. sgadan "herring." Low Ger. schade may be from Eng.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
They do nothing but pig out all winter on shad and perch.
Cast in shallow waters where the threadfin shad tend to linger, especially
  right before the temperature starts to drop.
Try trolling with live anchovies or shad, or lures and spoons that mimic shad.
IT is not quite spring yet, but shad and shad roe are already in the market.
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