• synonyms


noun, plural lam·preys.
  1. any eellike marine or freshwater fish of the order Petromyzoniformes, having a circular, suctorial mouth with horny teeth for boring into the flesh of other fishes to feed on their blood.
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Origin of lamprey

1250–1300; Middle English lampreye < Anglo-French *lampreie (Old French lamproie) < Late Latin lamprēda; replacing Old English lamprede < Medieval Latin lampreda
Also called lamprey eel, lamper eel.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for lamprey

Historical Examples of lamprey

  • She is as transparent as a lamprey eel, then, or a youthful sardine?

    Quo Vadis

    Henryk Sienkiewicz

  • The lamprey was also with the Romans a pet fish: it is now rare.

  • The striking peculiarity of the lamprey is its life-history.

    The Origin of Vertebrates

    Walter Holbrook Gaskell

  • Compare the life-history of the lamprey and of the tunicate.

    The Origin of Vertebrates

    Walter Holbrook Gaskell

  • In the lamprey the brain is more like that of the ordinary fish.

British Dictionary definitions for lamprey


  1. any eel-like cyclostome vertebrate of the family Petromyzonidae, having a round sucking mouth for clinging to and feeding on the blood of other animalsAlso called: lamper eel See also sea lamprey
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Word Origin for lamprey

C13: from Old French lamproie, from Late Latin lamprēda; origin obscure
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 lamprey


c.1300 (c.1200 as a surname?), from Old French lamproie, from Medieval Latin lampreda, from Late Latin lampetra "lamprey," of uncertain origin, usually explained as literally "lick-rock," from Latin lambere "to lick" (see lap (v.1)) + petra "rock" (see petrous). The animals attach themselves to things with their sucker-like mouths.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper