Definition of lamprey in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈlamprē/

noun (plural lampreys)

An eellike aquatic jawless vertebrate that has a sucker mouth with horny teeth and a rasping tongue. The adult is often parasitic, attaching itself to other fish and sucking their blood.
  • Family Petromyzonidae: several genera and species.
Example sentences
  • These conditions support a rich diversity of invertebrate life and important game fisheries, such as brown trout, brook lamprey, salmon, crayfish, and otter.
  • Modern adult lampreys measure anywhere from about 6 to 40 inches long.
  • Several fish, such as the sea lamprey, Atlantic sturgeon, alewife, Atlantic salmon and American eel live most of their lives in the ocean but enter freshwater to spawn.


Middle English: from Old French lampreie, from medieval Latin lampreda, probably from Latin lambere 'to lick' + petra 'stone' (because the lamprey attaches itself to stones by its mouth).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: lam·prey

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.