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  1. the mass of eggs, or spawn, within the ovarian membrane of the female fish.
  2. the milt or sperm of the male fish.
  3. the eggs of any of various crustaceans, as the coral of the lobster.

Origin of roe1

1400–50; late Middle English rowe; cognate with Old High German rogo


noun, plural roes, (especially collectively) roe.
  1. roe deer.

Origin of roe2

before 900; Middle English roo, Old English rā, rāha; cognate with German Reh


  1. return on equity.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for roe


  1. Also called: hard roe the ovary of a female fish filled with mature eggs
  2. Also called: soft roe the testis of a male fish filled with mature sperm
  3. the ripe ovary of certain crustaceans, such as the lobster

Word Origin

C15: from Middle Dutch roge, from Old High German roga; related to Old Norse hrogn


noun plural roes or roe
  1. short for roe deer

Word Origin

Old English (ha), related to Old High German rēh (o), Old Norse


  1. Richard Roe law (formerly) the defendant in a fictitious action, Doe versus Roe, to test a point of lawSee also Doe (def. 1)
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

Word Origin and History for roe


"fish eggs," mid-15c., probably from an unrecorded Old English *hrogn, from Proto-Germanic *khrugna (cf. Old Norse hrogn, Danish rogn, Swedish rom, Flemish rog, Middle Low German and Middle Dutch roge, Old High German rogo, German Rogen "roe"), from PIE *krek- "frog spawn, fish eggs" (cf. Lithuanian kurkle, Russian krjak "spawn of frogs"). Exact relations of the Germanic words are uncertain.


"small deer," Old English ra, from raha, from Proto-Germanic *raikhaz (cf. Old Norse ra, Old Saxon reho, Middle Dutch and Dutch ree, Old High German reh, German Reh "roe"), of uncertain origin; perhaps from PIE root *rei- "streaked, spotted, striped in various colors."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

roe in Science


  1. The eggs of a fish, often together with the membrane of the ovary in which they are held.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.