clam

Definitions

General English

Food

  • A bivalve shellfish found worldwide with lean flesh which can be eaten raw, poached, steamed, baked or fried. All must be live when purchased and consumed as soon as possible after being allowed to clean themselves in water with a little oatmeal for 24 hours and subsequently well scrubbed. There is considerable confusion in the naming and classification of clams for culinary purposes. See amongst others, bean, carpet shell, golden carpet shell, little neck, quahog, sand, soft shell, surf, venus shell, warty venus and wedge shell.

Slang

  • noun a dollar. Invariably used in the plural, this is a racier alternative to buck, etc.

Origin & History of “clam”

Old English clam meant ‘something for tying up or fastening, fetter’; it can be traced back to a prehistoric Germanic base *klam-, which also produced clamp (14th c.) and is related to climb. there is a gap in the word’s history in early middle English times, but it reappears at the end of the 14th century in the sense ‘clamp’, and in the 16th century it was applied, originally in Scotland, to the mollusc which now bears the name, apparently on the grounds that its two shells close like the jaws of a clamp or vice.
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