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

  • n. Any of various small marine fishes related to the herrings, especially a commercially important edible species, Sardina pilchardus, of European waters.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of various small oily fish related to herrings, family Clupeidae.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A small European food fish (Clupea pilchardus) resembling the herring, but thicker and rounder. It is sometimes taken in great numbers on the coast of England.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A fish of the family Clupeidæ, Clupea pilchardus, resembling the herring, but thicker and rounder, with the under jaw shorter, the back more elevated, the belly less sharp, and the mouth edentulous.
  • n. A fish, Clupea sagax, closely related to the pilchard.
  • n. A third fish of the family Clupeidæ, Harengula macrophthalma.
  • n. The young menhaden.
  • n. A fish, Sardinella sagax, which visits the Australian shores periodically in large shoals: apparently the same as the Californian and Chilean pilchard, and closely related to the English pilchard, Sardinella pilchardus.

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

  • n. small fishes found in great schools along coasts of Europe; smaller and rounder than herring
  • n. small fatty fish usually canned


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

Origin unknown.


  • The pilchard is a little fish resembling a small herring.

    Deep Down, a Tale of the Cornish Mines

  • Actually, the best sardine (pilchard) I ever had was pan-sized - salted and flame grilled until the skin was black.

    Fried Carp, Anyone?

  • And the Penguin chews the scenery as if coated in pilchard paste and quacks "Penguins mate for life" into Catwoman's ear.

    Batman – Live - review

  • With the birds confined to this small space, and with no way to escape, most eventually opened their mouths to eat when a pilchard was firmly and persistently pressed against the sides of their beaks.

    The Great Penguin Rescue

  • Once made aware of the huge numbers of penguins that could die as a result of this food shortage, Valli Moosa agreed to temporarily lift the restrictions on the pilchard catch.

    The Great Penguin Rescue

  • Because of the dramatic decline in the pilchard population in the Western Cape area, local fishing restrictions had previously been put into place in an attempt to increase the numbers of these fish.

    The Great Penguin Rescue

  • After the local pilchard and anchovy stocks collapsed, the penguins were forced to search out new and less abundant prey items, such as gobe, red hake, and squid, but it was already too late.

    The Great Penguin Rescue

  • Despite the introduction of laws restricting the catch, the pilchard population has never fully recovered in this part of the world.

    The Great Penguin Rescue

  • There are many species of Clupeidae, with varying sizes and tastes, from the Atlantic herring, Clupea harengus, to the pilchard much loved in England, and often served in tomato sauce, to the tiny sprat, best smoked and eaten bones and all.

    "The Silver Darlings": Oliver Sacks on Herring

  • The latest rebranding exercise follows that of the humble pilchard, which was rechristened the Cornish sardine by the local industry in an effort to regenerate the region's faltering economy.

    A food name change that makes sense


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  • "A small sea fish related to the herring but smaller and rounder, especially an edible species found abundantly off hte coasts of Cornwall and Devon." --A Sea of Words, 332

    For pilchard-boat, see a usage note on bilander.

    February 27, 2008