General English


  • noun a bowler of lobs
    Citation ‘He displayed a great turn of speed running out to the lobster, whom he really played extremely well’ (Headlam 1903)


  • The largest sea crustaceans, Homarus gammarus and H. americanus, with eight legs, two forward-facing strong crushing claws, several antennae and a muscular tail. Lobsters are blue-grey when alive and pink when cooked. They are caught on both sides of the Atlantic and in Europe weigh up to 2 kg. The North American variety is larger. Female lobsters, which are more tender, may contain orange eggs called coral. They should feel heavy for their size, generally yield half their weight in edible meat and are normally bought alive. To kill them they can either be suffocated for 30 minutes in de-aerated water (water which has been vigorously boiled and cooled), be dropped in boiling water and held under for 2 minutes or be severed along the centre line of the whole body using a cleaver or heavy knife and starting at the head end. The RSPCA recommend placing them in cold salted water (35 g salt per litre) which is gradually brought to the boil.


  • noun a shellfish with a long body, two large claws, and eight legs, used as food

Origin & History of “lobster”

The Latin word locusta denoted both the voracious grasshopper, the ‘locust’, and the ‘lobster’ or similar crustaceans, such as the crayfish (if, as has been suggested, the word is related to Greek lēkan ‘jump’, then presumably the ‘grasshopper’ sense was primary, and the ‘lobster’ application arose from some supposed resemblance between the two creatures). English has borrowed the Latin word twice. most recently it came in the easily recognizable guise locust (13th c.), but lobster too goes back to the same source. The radical change of form may be due to the influence of the Old English word loppe ‘spider’ – the Old English precursor of lobster was loppestre or lopystre.