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[eel] /il/
noun, plural (especially collectively) eel (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) eels.
any of numerous elongated, snakelike marine or freshwater fishes of the order Apodes, having no ventral fins.
any of several similar but unrelated fishes, as the lamprey.
Origin of eel
before 1000; Middle English ele, Old English ēl, ǣl; cognate with Dutch aal, German Aal, Old Norse āll
Related forms
eellike, adjective
eely, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for eel
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The cat-fish, in spite of its ugly name and uglier looks, proved excellent, though somewhat rich—tasting very like an eel.

    Afar in the Forest W.H.G. Kingston
  • In the latter case we hear more often of the eel than of other fish.

    Amateur Fish Culture Charles Edward Walker
  • There was a horrid noise; two families were quarreling about the head of an eel, which in the end was carried off by the Cat.

    Favorite Fairy Tales Logan Marshall
  • The pieces of eel should be put back in the sauce to be warmed.

    The Italian Cook Book Maria Gentile
  • It was in anxieties like this that the eight o'clock mass slipped by, like an eel in his slime.

  • Sometimes Andy was more slippery than an eel, he thought dolefully.

    Jerry's Charge Account Hazel Hutchins Wilson
  • Perhaps in no language but the Welsh, could an eel be mentioned in lofty poetry: Lysowen is perfect music.

    Wild Wales George Borrow
British Dictionary definitions for eel


any teleost fish of the order Apodes (or Anguilliformes), such as the European freshwater species Anguilla anguilla, having a long snakelike body, a smooth slimy skin, and reduced fins
any of various other animals with a long body and smooth skin, such as the mud eel and the electric eel
an evasive or untrustworthy person
Derived Forms
eel-like, adjective
eely, adjective
Word Origin
Old English ǣl; related to Old Frisian ēl, Old Norse āll, Old High German āl
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 eel

Old English æl, from Proto-Germanic *ælaz (cf. Old Frisian -el, Middle Dutch ael, Dutch aal, Old Saxon and Old High German al, German Aal, Old Norse all), of unknown origin, with no certain cognates outside Germanic. Used figuratively for slipperiness from at least 1520s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for eel


Related Terms

manhattan eel

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with eel
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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