alewife

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English[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

ale + wife

Noun[edit]

alewife (plural alewives)

  1. (archaic) A woman who keeps an alehouse.

Etymology 2[edit]

a shad species called alewife

Unknown. Possibly from aloof, the Indian name of a fish. See Winthrop on the culture of maize in America, “Phil Trans.” No. 142, p. 1065, and Baddam’s “Memoirs,” vol. ii. p. 131.

Possibly from allowes (a type of shad), from French alose (shad), from Old French, from Late Latin alausa, influenced by Etymology 1 due to large belly of the fish.

Noun[edit]

alewife (plural alewives)

  1. A North American fish, Clupea vernalis, of the herring family.
  2. A migrating North American fish, Alosa pseudoharengus.
    • 2014 April 20, Richard Conniff, The New York Times[1]:
      Alewives are anadromous fish: Born in freshwater, they spend their lives in the ocean, returning annually to their birthplaces to spawn. Until colonial-era dams cut off their migration, hundreds of thousands of alewives would have come pouring into Rogers Lake [Connecticut, USA] every spring – and into other lakes like it along much of the Eastern Seaboard. Farmers used to apply them to their fields as fertilizer, and all along the coast, river herring festivals celebrated their arrival.
  3. Any of several species similar in appearance.
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