[ eel ]

noun,plural (especially collectively) eel, (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) eels.
  1. any of numerous elongated, snakelike marine or freshwater fishes of the order Apodes, having no ventral fins.

  2. any of several similar but unrelated fishes, as the lamprey.

Origin of eel

before 1000; Middle English ele,Old English ēl, ǣl; cognate with Dutch aal,German Aal,Old Norse āll

Other words from eel

  • eellike, adjective
  • eely, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use eel in a sentence

  • Is found underneath stones at the bottom of rivers and brooks, and also amongst gravel; it is a good bait for Trout and Eels.

    The Teesdale Angler | R Lakeland
  • The water is alive with them, churning and threshing over one another like a pot full of eels.

  • Clams afforded a further help, the people treading and digging the flats at low tide, while eels and crabs supplemented this.

    William Bradford of Plymouth | Albert Hale Plumb

British Dictionary definitions for eel


/ (iːl) /

  1. any teleost fish of the order Apodes (or Anguilliformes), such as the European freshwater species Anguilla anguilla, having a long snakelike body, a smooth slimy skin, and reduced fins

  2. any of various other animals with a long body and smooth skin, such as the mud eel and the electric eel

  1. an evasive or untrustworthy person

Origin of eel

Old English ǣl; related to Old Frisian ēl, Old Norse āll, Old High German āl

Derived forms of eel

  • eel-like, adjective
  • eely, adjective

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with eel


see slippery as an eel.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.