Definition of crayfish in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈkreɪfɪʃ/

noun (plural same or crayfishes)

Image of crayfish
1 (also freshwater crayfish) A nocturnal freshwater crustacean that resembles a small lobster and inhabits streams and rivers.
Example sentences
  • Land crabs, river crayfish, opossum, agouti, and fish are caught where available.
  • As we clambered through the breakdown above the stream we saw several crayfish, which had apparently been washed in by the storm earlier in the week.
  • It escaped, of course, like all imports do, and is now wiping out the much smaller native crayfish in the rushing streams of the Yorkshire Dales.
1.1 (also marine crayfish) another term for spiny lobster.
Example sentences
  • Lobsters, crabs, prawns, bay bugs, freshwater and marine crayfish all belong to the phylum Arthropoda, the group which also contains insects.
  • He pointed to recent archaeological investigations which indicated that Maori had overexploited resources such as seals, marine crayfish and birds of several varieties.
  • The Palinuridae family includes the commercially exploited crustaceans of Australia that are known as rock lobsters, spiny crayfish and marine crayfish.


Middle English: from Old French crevice, of Germanic origin and related to German Krebs (see crab1). In the 16th century or earlier the second syllable was altered by association with fish1.

  • A crayfish is not a fish but a freshwater crustacean that looks like a small lobster. Its name came into medieval English from Old French crevice, and was probably related to crab (although not to crevice (Middle English), which is from Old French crever, ‘to burst or split’). The spelling was altered in the 16th century simply because people thought that it made more sense: it lives in water, so it must be a fish.

Words that rhyme with crayfish


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: cray|fish

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.