Definition of sprat in English:

sprat

Line breaks: sprat
Pronunciation: /sprat
 
/

noun

1A small marine fish of the herring family, widely caught for food and fish products.
  • Sprattus and other genera, family Clupeidae: several species, in particular S. sprattus of European inshore waters
More example sentences
  • However, they are now firmly identified, at least so far as Britain is concerned, as the fry of various fish of the herring family, but mainly of the herring itself and the sprat.
  • Others say it's the healthy levels of sprat and herring which are providing them with plenty of food.
  • Clupeid fish, like herring, anchovies, and sprats, can detect sound frequencies up to around 40 kilohertz, way beyond the hearing range of most other fish.
1.1Any of a number of small fishes that resemble the true sprats, e.g. the sand eel.
More example sentences
  • ‘Wild puffins normally eat live whitebait, sprats and sand eels which they dive in the sea for,’ said Mrs Platts.
  • The crabs, which are natural scavengers, are being fed with dead sand eels and sprats.

verb (sprats, spratting, spratted)

[no object] Back to top  
Fish for sprats: they were out spratting
More example sentences
  • After the war, Joe and the ‘Iris Mary’ continued shrimping in the summer and spratting in the winter.

Origin

late 16th century: variant of Old English sprot, of unknown origin.

Phrases

a sprat to catch a mackerel

British A small outlay or risk ventured in the hope of a significant return.
More example sentences
  • We will use what we call leverage - using a sprat to catch a mackerel.
  • He pointed out the police could have arrested him after the handover in the pub car park but Mr Lithman added: ‘Because the police wanted to use him as a sprat to catch a mackerel he now has to pay an inflated price.’
  • Actually, it's probably a sprat to catch a mackerel since they have plenty more stuff that they haven't made available.

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