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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ In fact, Knight Gobies will eat anything from flake to lumps of sprat.
▪ It is a great shoal of sprats that has assembled in these inshore waters.
▪ Once a shoal of respectable dace are attracted in by your feeding, the sprats and minnows will be shouldered out.
▪ This year a mere sprat of a northern lass won my heart playing hers out on a mighty and sonorous trombone.
▪ Yet numerous younger sprats swam with a gang too.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Sprat \Sprat\ (spr[a^]t), n. [OE. sprot, sprotte, D. sprot; akin to G. sprotte.] (Zo["o]l.)

  1. A small European herring ( Clupea sprattus) closely allied to the common herring and the pilchard; -- called also garvie. The name is also applied to small herring of different kinds.

  2. A California surf-fish ( Rhacochilus toxotes); -- called also alfione, and perch. Sprat borer (Zo["o]l.), the red-throated diver; -- so called from its fondness for sprats. See Diver. Sprat loon. (Zo["o]l.)

    1. The young of the great northern diver. [Prov. Eng.]

    2. The red-throated diver. See Diver.

      Sprat mew (Zo["o]l.), the kittiwake gull.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

small European herring, 1590s, variant of sprot (c.1300), from Old English sprott "a small herring," according to Klein related to Dutch sprot and probably connected to sprout (v.).


n. Any of various small, herring-like, marine fish in the genus (taxlink Sprattus genus noshow=1), in the family Clupeidae.

  1. n. small fatty European fish; usually smoked or canned like sardines [syn: brisling]

  2. small herring processed like a sardine [syn: brisling, Clupea sprattus]


Salted sprats (Sprattus sprattus) at Odessa bazaar, Ukraine


A sprat is the common name applied to a group of forage fish belonging to the genus Sprattus in the family Clupeidae. The term is also applied to a number of other small sprat-like forage fish. Like most forage fishes, sprats are highly active small oily fish. They travel in large schools with other fish and swim continuously throughout the day.

They are also recognized for their nutritional value as they contain high levels of polyunsaturated fats, considered beneficial to the human diet.They are eaten in many places around the world. Sprats are sometimes passed for other fish; products sold as having been prepared from anchovies (since the 19th century) and sardines are sometimes prepared from sprats, as the authentic ones used to be less accessible. They are known for their smooth flavour and are easy to mistake for baby sardines.

Usage examples of "sprat".

In 1663, Sprat was nominated for membership in the Royal Society with the provision that he would write a history of the Society to help it defend itself against its religious detractors.

With this assertion Sprat, expressing a view common among scientists of his day, established the methodological guidelines for replacing the preternatural realm of demons, spirits, and angels with the modern scientific theoretical realm of quarks, virtual particles, and superstrings.

We can only speculate as to whether Sprat was aware of the ease with which he moved from the statement that miracles exist everywhere to the assertion that miracles exist nowhere.

With respect to the Devil, Sprat, again assuming an authority that is normally granted only to supernatural revelation, assured his readers that Christianity is secure, so the Devil is no longer a threat.

With his theological defense of the mechanical philosophy, Sprat appears to be one of the pioneering theologians of this new sect.

He felt like a sex-drunk, harebrained adolescent again, like the spotty boy who had tumbled Amy Sprat in the heather so long ago.

She had her faults, Amy Sprat, but she was as tough as a veteran warhorse.

Shall we just say that you are the sprat with which I mean to catch a mackerel, as I think the saying goes?

Mansoul swallowed it without chewing, as if it had been a sprat in the mouth of a whale.

A man could not be jealous of a woman whom he regarded as a mere tool, a sprat to catch a mackerel, as the saying had it.

Albrecht Amsel was known as a wholesale purchaser of fresh-water fish as well as deep-sea fish: chests of the lightest pinewood, golden yellow and packed full of smoked flounder, smoked eel, sprats both loose and bundled, lampreys, codfish roe, and strongly or subtly smoked Vistula salmon, with the inscription: A.

Sprat claimed that experimental philosophers are satisfied with a plain believing, or unquestioning faith, requiring no empirical evidence or experiential confirmation.

But every dragon know that one in three sprats from a leatherback and green mating will be freemartin.

The sprats count also, however, and every week now telegrams were reaching England from Lord Kitchener which showed that from three to five hundred more burghers had fallen into our hands.

She started in at breakfast on canned sardines, two hours later, unless there happened to be customers in the shop, she would dig into a case of Bohnsack sprats, for lunch she would demand fried flounder or codfish with mustard sauce, and in the afternoon there she was again with her can opener: eels in jelly, rollmops, baked herring, and if Matzerath refused to fry or boil more fish for supper, she would waste no breath in arguing, but would quietly leave the table and come back from the shop with a chunk of smoked eel.