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

  • n. A large mackerel or herring, lightly smoked and salted.
  • n. A small whitefish (Coregonus hoyi) of the Great Lakes and the lakes of eastern Canada.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A salted, and lightly smoked herring or mackerel.
  • n. A freshwater fish native to the Great Lakes; the species Coregonus hoyi.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The common herring, esp. when of large size, smoked, and half dried; -- called also bloat herring.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An English name for a herring which has been steeped for a short time, slightly salted, and partially smoke-dried, but not split open.

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

  • n. large fatty herring lightly salted and briefly smoked


From obsolete dialectal bloat, a soft, moist cured fish, probably from bloat.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)



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  • It's a fish.

    January 1, 2012

  • "...the midshipmen's berth was rounding out their pease-pudding and pig's trotters with toasted bloaters, laid in at Valetta, and the smell eddying aft from the galley brought water to his mouth."
    --Patrick O'Brian, The Ionian Mission, 265

    February 14, 2008