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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for eel
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I struggled like an eel caught in a net, but it was all in vain.

    My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt
  • Why, what makes you stand twisting there like an eel or an ape, child?

  • So I took my fishing-rod and flicked it at him, and there—I had caught the eel after all!

    W. A. G.'s Tale Margaret Turnbull
  • The boy had grabbed the fishing-rod, so that my rod and my eel went with them.

    W. A. G.'s Tale Margaret Turnbull
  • It proved so for a while, and there Jeff pulled in his first eel.

  • "Dear heart alive, if it's not like nursing an eel," said Nancy.

    The Manxman Hall Caine
  • He is slippery as an eel—with all his 'honesty,' his piety, his benevolence.

    Ireland as It Is Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)
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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