Definition of alewife in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈālwīf/

noun (plural alewives /-ˌwīvz/)

1A northwestern Atlantic fish of the herring family that swims up rivers to spawn and is found also in the Great Lakes.
  • Alosa pseudoharengus, family Clupeidae.
Example sentences
  • Larger salmon eat a variety of fishes such as herring and alewives, smelts, capelin, small mackerel, sand lace, and small cod.
  • Our goal was to determine if seal numbers increase during the alewife and Atlantic salmon runs.
  • Some of the species that live in the ocean but enter freshwater to spawn are sea lamprey, Atlantic sturgeon, alewife, Atlantic salmon, arctic char, and American eel.
1.1 another term for menhaden.


Mid 17th century: possibly from earlier alewife 'woman who keeps an alehouse', with reference to the fish's large belly.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ale·wife

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