Definition of bêche-de-mer in English:



  • A large sea cucumber that is eaten as a delicacy in China and Japan.

    Also called trepang
    • ‘Fishing for bêche-de-mer in Torres Strait is mainly by free diving from dinghies crewed by 2-3 fishers or by hand collection along reefs at low tide.’
    • ‘They made seasonal visits to northern Australia, probably from the late seventeenth century, to collect trepang (also known as bêche-de-mer, sea slug, or sea cucumber - reputedly an aphrodisiac), which they traded with the Chinese.’
    • ‘The creatures, also called sea cucumbers, or bêches-de-mer in French and namako in Japanese, are one of the items on Asian menus that Westerners often find most difficult to swallow.’
    • ‘Sea cucumbers that are harvested, cooked, and dried for consumption are known as bêche-de-mer.’


Late 18th century: pseudo-French, alteration of Portuguese bicho do mar, literally sea worm.