whitebait

[hwahyt-beyt, wahyt-]
noun, plural whitebait.
1.
a young sprat or herring.
2.
Cookery. any small, delicate fish cooked whole without being cleaned, especially the sprat.

Origin:
1750–60; white + bait, so called from use as bait

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
whitebait (ˈwaɪtˌbeɪt)
 
n
1.  the young of herrings, sprats, etc, cooked and eaten whole as a delicacy
2.  any of various small silvery fishes, such as Galaxias attenuatus of Australia and New Zealand and Allosmerus elongatus of North American coastal regions of the Pacific
 
[C18: from its formerly having been used as bait]

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

whitebait

any of several species of small, slim schooling fish of the family Atherinidae (order Atheriniformes), found in freshwater and along coasts around the world in warm and temperate regions

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
My latest such experience involved capturing and devouring whitebait.
Its younger set, coming shoreward for the first time to spawn, are caught as whitebait.
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