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[min-oh] /ˈmɪn oʊ/
noun, plural (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) minnows (especially collectively, Rare) minnow for 1–3.
a small, European cyprinoid fish, Phoxinus phoxinus.
any other fish of the family Cyprinidae, including the carps, goldfishes, and daces.
any of various unrelated, small fishes.
a person or thing that is comparatively small or insignificant.
Origin of minnow
1325-75; Middle English minwe, Old English *mynwe (feminine) for myne (masculine); cognate with Old High German munewa kind of fish Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for minnow
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I always treat a minnow as Izaak Walton spoke of a frog, "as if I loved him."

    Black Bass Charles Barker Bradford
  • The Editor says that one was a minnow and that the rest were sticklebacks.

    The Book of the Damned Charles Fort
  • The little loop was still on the fragment of minnow tackle which fastened it to the cast.

    Angling Sketches Andrew Lang
  • The minnow was meant for short heavy hops to planets or asteroids.

    Accidental Death Peter Baily
  • Some of the fishes are as common as the schoolboy's familiar friend, the minnow.

  • You can catch a minnow with a worm, and a bass will take your minnow.

  • "You might have caught him with a minnow," said Walter, speaking for the first time.

    Eugene Aram, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • With as much mind as a minnow and as much snap as a soft-boiled egg.

    The Reef Edith Wharton
British Dictionary definitions for minnow


noun (pl) -nows, -now
a small slender European freshwater cyprinid fish, Phoxinus phoxinus
any other small cyprinid
(angling) a spinning lure imitating a minnow
a small or insignificant person
Word Origin
C15: related to Old English myne minnow; compare Old High German muniwa 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 minnow

small freshwater fish, early 15c., probably related to Old English myne, earlier *mynwe, a name for some kind of fish, from Proto-Germanic *muniwon (cf. Middle Low German möne, Dutch meun, Old High German muniwa, German Münne), of unknown origin, perhaps from PIE *men- "small." Perhaps influenced in Middle English by French menu "small."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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