• synonyms


[hwahyt-beyt, wahyt-]
noun, plural white·bait.
  1. a young sprat or herring.
  2. Cookery. any small, delicate fish cooked whole without being cleaned, especially the sprat.
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Origin of whitebait

1750–60; white + bait, so called from use as bait
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for whitebait

Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for whitebait


  1. the young of herrings, sprats, etc, cooked and eaten whole as a delicacy
  2. any of various small silvery fishes, such as Galaxias attenuatus of Australia and New Zealand and Allosmerus elongatus of North American coastal regions of the Pacific
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Word Origin

C18: from its formerly having been used as bait
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