[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.

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 of whitebait

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

Word Origin for whitebait

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