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[shrimp] /ʃrɪmp/
noun, plural shrimps (especially collectively) shrimp for 1.
any of several small, long-tailed, chiefly marine crustaceans of the decapod suborder Natania, certain species of which are used as food.
Informal. a diminutive or insignificant person.
verb (used without object)
to catch or try to catch shrimps.
(of food) made with or containing shrimp:
shrimp salad.
of or relating to shrimp or their catching, processing, and marketing:
a shrimp boat.
Origin of shrimp
1300-50; Middle English shrimpe crustacean, puny person; akin to Middle High German schrimpfen to contract, Old English scrimman to shrink
Related forms
shrimplike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for shrimp
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I helped her up on to this rock and baited her hook with shrimp.

    The Rise of Roscoe Paine Joseph C. Lincoln
  • But, my dear Lawless, out of the host of servants at Heathfield, how do you know it was shrimp who did it?

    Frank Fairlegh Frank E. Smedley
  • Some of the young ones, as joyful skippers, could have tired out a shrimp.

    A Jolly Fellowship Frank R. Stockton
  • "I hope we don't have to have much to do with shrimp," muttered Noll Terry.

    Uncle Sam's Boys in the Ranks

    H. Irving Hancock
  • For shrimp had been tried by court-martial, three days before.

    Uncle Sam's Boys in the Ranks

    H. Irving Hancock
British Dictionary definitions for shrimp


any of various chiefly marine decapod crustaceans of the genus Crangon and related genera, having a slender flattened body with a long tail and a single pair of pincers
any of various similar but unrelated crustaceans, such as the opossum shrimp and mantis shrimp
Also called freshwater shrimp. any of various freshwater shrimplike amphipod crustaceans of the genus Gammarus, esp G. pulex
Also called sand shrimp. any of various shrimplike amphipod crustaceans of the genus Gammarus, esp G. locusta See also opossum shrimp
(informal) a diminutive person, esp a child
(intransitive) to fish for shrimps
Derived Forms
shrimper, noun
Word Origin
C14: probably of Germanic origin; compare Middle Low German schrempen to shrink; see scrimp, crimp
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 shrimp

early 14c., "slender, edible marine crustacean," probably from Old Norse skreppa "thin person," from Proto-Germanic *skrimp- (see scrimp). Related to Old English scrimman "to shrink;" the connecting notion is probably "thinness" (cf. Danish dialectal skrimpe "thin cattle"). The meaning "puny person" in English is attested from late 14c.; an especially puny one might be a shrimplet (1680s).


"fish for shrimp," 1801 (implied in shrimping ), from shrimp (n.). Related: Shrimper (1808).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for shrimp



A very short or small person; peanut (1386+)

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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