Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A fish (Alosa pseudoharengus) closely related to the herrings and native to North American Atlantic waters and some inland lakes.
  • n. A woman who keeps an alehouse.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A woman who keeps an alehouse.
  • n. A North American fish (Clupea vernalis) of the herring family.
  • n. A migrating North American fish, Alosa pseudoharengus.
  • n. Any of several species similar in appearance.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A woman who keeps an alehouse.
  • n. A North American fish (Clupea vernalis) of the Herring family. It is called also ellwife, ellwhop, branch herring. The name is locally applied to other related species.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A woman who keeps an ale-house.
  • n. A North American fish, Clupea vernalis, from 8 to 10 inches long, resembling a small shad, but much inferior to it as food. It is taken in large numbers with that fish.
  • n. A name given at Bermuda to the round pompano, Trachynotus ovatus. See pompano.
  • n. A local English name of the allice-shad.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. flesh of shad-like fish abundant along the Atlantic coast or in coastal streams
  • n. shad-like food fish that runs rivers to spawn; often salted or smoked; sometimes placed in genus Pomolobus

Etymologies

Probably alteration (influenced by alewife2) of obsolete allowes, a type of shad, from French alose, shad, from Old French, from Late Latin alausa.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
ale + wife (Wiktionary)

Examples

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