General English

General Science

  • noun a large sea fish that returns to a freshwater river to lay its eggs


  • A large, round, oily seawater fish, Salmo salar, with a silvery skin and pink flesh, which spends the first two years of its life in a river and returns to the same river to spawn. Found throughout the North Pacific and Atlantic oceans, it is now extensively farmed in Scotland and Norway. The farmed variety may be distinguished from the wild by their intact tails and fins. They normally weigh from 3 to 13 kg and are often cooked whole and served cold and decorated at buffets and banquets. May be cooked in any way and smoked.
  • The Australian salmon, Arripis trutta, the eastern variety, and A.truttaceus, the western variety, which are not true salmon but are more closely related to perch. The ranges of the two species overlap in Victoria and they are also found in the coastal waters of New Zealand. They are not of great commercial value, although an excellent sport fish, and are generally canned.


  • noun a cigarette. This usage, which is probably from the older rhyming slang phrase ‘salmon and trout’, meaning snout, was popular among London schoolchildren from the mid-1990s and was featured in the Shamen’s controversial 1995 hit Ebenezer Goode. Biff was a contemporary synonym.


  • noun a large sea fish, with pink flesh

Origin & History of “salmon”

The ancestral Indo-European word for ‘salmon’ is lax. It survives in numerous modern European languages, including German lachs, Swedish lax (whence English gravlax), Yiddish laks (source of English lox ‘smoked salmon’), and Russian losos’. The Old English member of the family was læx, but in the 13th century this was replaced by salmon, a borrowing from Anglo-Norman saumoun. This in turn went back to Latin salmō, which some have linked with salīre ‘jump’ (source of English assail, insult, salient, etc) – hence the ‘leaping’ fish.