Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[her-ing] /ˈhɛr ɪŋ/
noun, plural (especially collectively) herring (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) herrings.
an important food fish, Clupea harengus harengus, found in enormous shoals in the North Atlantic.
a similar fish, Clupea harengus pallasii, of the North Pacific.
any fish of the family Clupeidae, including herrings, shads, and sardines.
any of various fishes resembling the herring but of unrelated families.
Origin of herring
before 900; Middle English hering, Old English hǣring; cognate with German Häring
Related forms
herringlike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for herring
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The professor, who was a kind-hearted man, drew a herring across the scent.

  • You are as thin as a French herring, you know, with a yard and a half of throat.

    The Channings Mrs. Henry Wood
  • Thus the common expression, 'As dead as a herring,' is due to them.


    Benjamin Taylor
  • They hung around her like a passel of gulls around a herring boat.

    Cape Cod Stories Joseph C. Lincoln
  • "He turned his herring yonder night when he left goodbye to the four of us," he said.

    The Manxman Hall Caine
British Dictionary definitions for herring


noun (pl) -rings, -ring
any marine soft-finned teleost fish of the family Clupeidae, esp Clupea harengus, an important food fish of northern seas, having an elongated body covered, except in the head region, with large fragile silvery scales
Word Origin
Old English hǣring; related to Old High German hāring, Old Frisian hēring, Dutch haring
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for herring

Old English hering (Anglian), hæring (West Saxon), from West Germanic *heringgaz (cf. Old Frisian hereng, Middle Dutch herinc, German Hering), of unknown origin, perhaps related to or influenced in form by Old English har "gray, hoar," from the color, or to Old High German heri "host, multitude" from its large schools.

French hareng, Italian aringa are from Germanic. The Battle of the Herrings (French bataille des harengs) is the popular name for the battle at Rouvrai, Feb. 12, 1492, fought in defense of a convoy of provisions, mostly herrings and other "lenten stuffe."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with herring
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for herring

Word Value for herring

Scrabble Words With Friends