anchovy

Definitions

General English

Food

  • A small Mediterranean fish of the herring family, Engraulis encrasicolus, up to 20 cm in length and fished in the Mediterranean and the bay of Biscay between January and September. Usually salted whole and used as a garnish or for flavouring. A similar fish, Stolephorus heterolobus, is found throughout Southeast Asia and used fresh, salted or dried and is one of the fish fermented to produce fish pastes and sauces.

Travel

Origin & History of “anchovy”

English acquired anchovy from Spanish anchova (the word first turns up as an item on Falstaff’s bill at the Boar’s Head: ‘Anchovies and sack after supper … 2s 6d’, 1 Henry IV 1596), but before that its history is disputed. One school of thought holds that it comes via Italian dialect ancioa from vulgar Latin *apjua, which in turn was derived from Greek aphúē ‘small fry’; but another connects it with Basque anchu, which may mean literally ‘dried fish’.
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