Definition of crayfish in English:


nounPlural crayfishes

  • 1A nocturnal freshwater crustacean that resembles a small lobster and inhabits streams and rivers.

    Several genera in the infraorder Astacidea, class Malacostraca, including Astacus of Europe and Cambarus of North America

    • ‘It escaped, of course, like all imports do, and is now wiping out the much smaller native crayfish in the rushing streams of the Yorkshire Dales.’
    • ‘Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is looking into moving white-claw crayfish to safe rivers.’
    • ‘Looking that way, he saw a pair of raccoons dunking their paws in the river, obviously after crayfish.’
    • ‘Land crabs, river crayfish, opossum, agouti, and fish are caught where available.’
    • ‘As we clambered through the breakdown above the stream we saw several crayfish, which had apparently been washed in by the storm earlier in the week.’
    1. 1.1
      another term for spiny lobster
      • ‘The Palinuridae family includes the commercially exploited crustaceans of Australia that are known as rock lobsters, spiny crayfish and marine crayfish.’
      • ‘He pointed to recent archaeological investigations which indicated that Maori had overexploited resources such as seals, marine crayfish and birds of several varieties.’
      • ‘However, aquaculture also includes the farming of other aquatic animals such as: molluscs (including oysters, abalone, mussels and scallops); crustaceans (such as shrimps, prawns, freshwater and marine crayfish); and aquatic plants (seaweeds).’
      • ‘Lobsters, crabs, prawns, bay bugs, freshwater and marine crayfish all belong to the phylum Arthropoda, the group which also contains insects.’
      • ‘The spiny, or rock, lobsters, found in warm seas of both hemispheres, are actually marine crayfish (genus Panulirus); they lack claws but have sharp spines on the carapace.’


Middle English: from Old French crevice, of Germanic origin and related to German Krebs (see crab). In the 16th century or earlier the second syllable was altered by association with fish.