Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A small sturgeon (Acipenser ruthenus) native to rivers flowing into the Black and Caspian Seas, having roe that is used for caviar.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A species of sturgeon, Acipenser ruthenus.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Zoöl.) A small sturgeon (Acipenser ruthenus) found in the Caspian Sea and its rivers, and highly esteemed for its flavor. The finest caviar is made from its roe.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A common Eurasian species of sturgeon (Acipenser ruthenus), one of the smaller species.

Etymologies

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

[Russian sterlyad', from Old Russian sterlyagi, of Germanic origin.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Russian стерлядь.

Examples

  • We understood the despair of Parisian gourmets and cooks, and we confirmed the verdict, provisionally announced at breakfast, that the sterlet is the king of all fish.

    Russian Rambles

  • They swear by him, they offer him to you as they would a dish of choice sterlet.

    War and Peace

  • With the second course, a gigantic sterlet (at sight of which Ilya Rostov blushed with self-conscious pleasure), the footmen began popping corks and filling the champagne glasses.

    War and Peace

  • Of fresh-water fish, the sturgeon (_Acipenser sturio_ and _A. huso_), sterlet, salmon (_Salmo hucho_), and carp are found in the Danube; the mountain streams abound in trout.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 4, Part 4 "Bulgaria" to "Calgary"

  • Then, after a Russian soup, which always contains as much solid nutriment as meat-biscuit or Arctic pemmican, came the glory of the repast, a mighty _sterlet_, which was swimming in Volga water when we took our seats at the table.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 15, No. 87, January, 1865

  • The bones are of a very glutinous nature, and can be easily masticated, while the taste of a sterlet is something between that of a barbel and a perch, the muddy flavour of the former predominating.

    Russia As Seen and Described by Famous Writers

  • The annual produce of these Astrakhan fisheries -- sturgeon, sterlet, salmon, pike, shad, etc. -- amounts to 10,000,000 puds of fish (the pud thirty-six English pound weight) of the value of

    Russia As Seen and Described by Famous Writers

  • This day investigation dropped; reconsidered verdict states poisoning to have been by sterlet caviar.

    The Genius

  • Now we came to some fishing-huts, which were constructed on the frozen river, the traffic in the finny tribe which takes place in this part of Russia being very great, the Volga producing the sterlet

    Russia As Seen and Described by Famous Writers

  • Our sterlet was nearly two feet long, and may have cost twenty or thirty dollars.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 15, No. 87, January, 1865

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