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From Middle English menowe, from Old English *mynwe, oblique form of *mynu, unattested variant of myne (minnow, small fish), from Proto-West Germanic *muniwu (minnow), from Proto-Indo-European *men- (small). Cognate with Middle Low German mone, möne (West Frisian meun, Dutch meun), Old High German muniwa, munuwa, munewa (German Münne (minnow)).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈmɪnəʊ/
    • (file)
    Rhymes: -ɪnəʊ


minnow (plural minnows)

  1. A small freshwater fish of the carp family, Phoxinus phoxinus.
  2. Any small fish.
    • 2004, Robert Werner, Freshwater Fishes of the Northeastern United States, page 74:
      Most minnows are small fish with cycloid scales, soft rays supporting their fins, and toothless jaws. Some possess barbels on their upper jaw, and many species develop nuptial tubercles during the breeding season.
  3. A relatively small and insignificant person or organization.
    • 2011 January 29, Chris Bevan, “Torquay 0 - 1 Crawley Town”, in BBC[1]:
      Having spent more than £500,000 on players last summer, Crawley can hardly be classed as minnows but they have still punched way above their weight and this kind of performance means no-one will relish pulling them out of the hat in Sunday's draw.



minnow (third-person singular simple present minnows, present participle minnowing, simple past and past participle minnowed)

  1. (fishing) To fish for minnows.
  2. (fishing) To fish (especially for trout) using a minnow as bait.

Derived termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

See alsoEdit