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[krey-fish] /ˈkreɪˌfɪʃ/
noun, plural (especially collectively) crayfish (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) crayfishes.
Also called crawdad, crawdaddy. any freshwater decapod crustacean of the genera Astacus and Cambarus, closely related to but smaller than the lobsters.
any of several similar marine crustaceans, especially the spiny lobster.
Also, crawfish.
Origin of crayfish
1350-1400; alteration (by folk etymology) of Middle English crevis < Middle French crevice < Old High German krebiz crab1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for crayfish
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • At this period the best bait is small minnows, crayfish, molluscs, etc.

    Black Bass Charles Barker Bradford
  • It hunts vigorously for crayfish and insect larv in the rivers.

  • By means of the circulation of the blood, the crayfish breathes.

  • The crayfish is brave, and skilful too, and he has good pistols.

    Carmen Prosper Merimee
  • This house belongs to me—the guineas of that crayfish will belong to me!

    Carmen Prosper Merimee
  • When he saw the crayfish on the table, he appeared to be afraid of it, although it was dead.

    Masterman Ready Captain Frederick Marryat
British Dictionary definitions for crayfish


noun (pl) -fish, -fishes
any freshwater decapod crustacean of the genera Astacus and Cambarus, resembling a small lobster
any of various similar crustaceans, esp the spiny lobster
Word Origin
C14: cray, by folk etymology, from Old French crevice crab, from Old High German krebiz + fish
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for crayfish

"small, freshwater lobster," early 14c., crevis, from Old French crevice "crayfish" (13c., Modern French écrevisse), probably from Frankish *krebitja or a similar Germanic word that is a diminutive form of the root of crab (n.1); e.g. Old High German krebiz "crab, shellfish," German Krebs. Modern spelling is 16c., under influence of fish (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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