noun, plural men·ha·den.
  1. any marine clupeid fish of the genus Brevoortia, especially B. tyrannus, resembling a shad but with a more compressed body, common along the eastern coast of the U.S., and used for making oil and fertilizer.

Origin of menhaden

1635–45, Americanism; perhaps < Narragansett (E spelling) munnawhatteaûg, influenced by E dial. poghaden; cf. pogy1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for menhaden

Historical Examples of menhaden

  • Capt. Benjamin Ashby says that they feed on mackerel, herring, whiting, and menhaden.

  • I have already discussed this question at length with reference to the menhaden and mackerel.

  • Cascading thousands of menhaden crushed him violently to the floor.

    Smugglers' Reef

    John Blaine

  • Whale and shark liver, or menhaden oils are often used abroad.


    K. J. Adcock

  • In all the adjacent waters vast numbers of menhaden are caught.

British Dictionary definitions for menhaden


noun plural -den
  1. a marine North American fish, Brevoortia tyrannus: source of fishmeal, fertilizer, and oil: family Clupeidae (herrings, etc)

Word Origin for menhaden

C18: from Algonquian; probably related to Narragansett munnawhatteaúg fertilizer, menhaden
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 menhaden

kind of herring, 1792, from Algonquian (probably Narragansett) munnawhateaug (noted from 1643), literally "they fertilize," because the abundant little fishes were used by the Indians as fertilizer.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper