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[kelp] /kɛlp/
any large, brown, cold-water seaweed of the family Laminariaceae, used as food and in various manufacturing processes.
a bed or mass of such seaweeds.
the ash of these seaweeds.
verb (used without object)
to burn these seaweeds for their ash.
Origin of kelp
1350-1400; apparently dialectal variant of Middle English culp < ? Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for kelp
Historical Examples
  • The sea is shallow at this place, and there are many low-lying reefs which afford abundance of kelp and seaweeds.

    Alone with the Hairy Ainu A. H. Savage Landor
  • kelp, or sea-weed, is used with advantage where it can be obtained.

    The Cauliflower A. A. Crozier
  • He had fished for salmon along the kelp beds there and dug clams under the eye of the Elephant long, long ago.

    Poor Man's Rock Bertrand W. Sinclair
  • If basalt be used, the proportion of kelp may be diminished.

  • So they hold to deep open water and leave the kelp and shoals to the rowboats.

    Poor Man's Rock Bertrand W. Sinclair
  • Before she could draw him in he had fouled the line among the kelp.

    Witches Cove Roy J. Snell
  • Finally it broke away and came up in a mass of kelp, and with the stock "adrift."

    The Home of the Blizzard Douglas Mawson
  • It is olive-green, thus simulating in color the kelp among which it lives.

    The Sea-beach at Ebb-tide Augusta Foote Arnold
  • Great ropes of kelp, tubes of dark brown sea-grass, floated past me on the slow tide.

    Over the Rocky Mountains to Alaska Charles Warren Stoddard
  • We were "caught" and floundered about in the kelp while the water surged around us.

    The Home of the Blizzard Douglas Mawson
British Dictionary definitions for kelp


any large brown seaweed, esp any in the order Laminariales
the ash of such seaweed, used as a source of iodine and potash
Word Origin
C14: of unknown origin
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 kelp

1660s, from Middle English culpe (late 14c.), of unknown origin. Kelper "native or inhabitant of the Falkland Islands" is attested from 1960.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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kelp in Science
Any of various brown, often very large seaweeds that grow in colder ocean regions. Kelps are varieties of brown algae of the order Laminariales, with some species growing over 61 m (200 ft) long. Kelps are harvested as food (primarily in eastern Asia), as fertilizer, and for their sodium and potassium salts, used in industrial processes. Kelps are also a source of thickening agents and colloid stabilizers used in many commercial products. See more at brown alga.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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