noun, plural (especially collectively) sar·dine, (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) sar·dines.

the pilchard, Sardina pilchardus, often preserved in oil and used for food.
any of various similar, closely related fishes of the herring family Clupeidae.

Origin of sardine

1400–50; late Middle English sardeine < Middle French sardine < Latin sardīna, derivative of sarda sardine, noun use of feminine of Sardus Sardinian


[sahr-dahyn, -dn]


Origin of sardine

1300–50; Middle English (< Late Latin sardīnus) < Greek sárdinos sardius Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sardine

Contemporary Examples of sardine

  • JR: Oh well, Gwyneth Paltrow, my little Gwennie-Wennie, and her two children, what is it…Apple and Sardine?

    The Daily Beast logo
    Joan Rivers: Our Last Interview

    Tim Teeman

    September 4, 2014

Historical Examples of sardine

  • I tell ye, he's no sardine; you kin see that without my tellin' ye.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • Finally the call of my name made me jump as a sardine does when pursued by a big fish.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • If that isn't enough to make a man feel as small as a sardine!

  • And they were as good to eat as a sardine and better than a mullet.

  • Where are the sardine sloops that ought to have sailed from Algiers?

    The Maids of Paradise

    Robert W. (Robert William) Chambers

British Dictionary definitions for sardine



noun plural -dines or -dine

any of various small marine food fishes of the herring family, esp a young pilchardSee also sild
like sardines very closely crowded together

Word Origin for sardine

C15: via Old French from Latin sardīna, diminutive of sarda a fish suitable for pickling




another name for sard

Word Origin for sardine

C14: from Late Latin sardinus, from Greek sardinos lithos Sardian stone, from Sardeis Sardis
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 sardine

early 15c., from Latin sardina, from Greek sardine, sardinos, often said to be from Sardo "Sardinia" (see Sardinia), the Mediterranean island, near which the fish probably were caught and from which they were exported. But cf. Klein: "It is hardly probable that the Greeks would have obtained fish from so far as Sardinia at a time relatively so early as that of Aristotle, from whom Athenaios quotes a passage in which the fish sardinos is mentioned." Colloquial phrase packed like sardines (in a tin) is recorded from 1911.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with sardine


see packed in like sardines.

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