Student Dictionary

One entry found for halibut.
Main Entry: hal·i·but
Pronunciation: primarystresshal-schwa-bschwat, primarystresshäl-
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural halibut also halibuts
Etymology: Middle English halybutte, literally, "holy flatfish," from haly "holy" and butte "flatfish"; so called from the fact it was regularly eaten on holy days
: either of two marine food fishes of the Atlantic or Pacific oceans that are the largest flatfishes reaching several hundred pounds
Word History Among the different kinds of fish found in the world's oceans is a group called the flatfish. Flatfish are well named, for they have flattened bodies with both eyes on the upper side of the head. In Middle English the word for flatfish was butte. Many of the flatfish are good to eat, and the largest of the flatfish got its name because it was popular as food. During the Middle Ages fish was often eaten on holy days in place of meat. The most popular fish for the holy days was the largest variety of flatfish, or "butte." Thus, this particular fish came to be called in Middle English halybutte, meaning literally "holy flatfish," from haly, a form of holy, and butte. In Modern English the spelling has been changed to halibut.

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