Definition of crayfish in English:



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

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Looking that way, he saw a pair of raccoons dunking their paws in the river, obviously after crayfish.’
    1. 1.1
      another term for spiny lobster
      • ‘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).’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The Palinuridae family includes the commercially exploited crustaceans of Australia that are known as rock lobsters, spiny crayfish and marine crayfish.’
      • ‘Lobsters, crabs, prawns, bay bugs, freshwater and marine crayfish all belong to the phylum Arthropoda, the group which also contains insects.’


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.