One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An eellike aquatic jawless vertebrate that has a sucker mouth with horny teeth and a rasping tongue. The adult is often parasitic, attaching itself to other fish and sucking their blood.
- ‘These conditions support a rich diversity of invertebrate life and important game fisheries, such as brown trout, brook lamprey, salmon, crayfish, and otter.’
- ‘Modern adult lampreys measure anywhere from about 6 to 40 inches long.’
- ‘Several fish, such as the sea lamprey, Atlantic sturgeon, alewife, Atlantic salmon and American eel live most of their lives in the ocean but enter freshwater to spawn.’
- ‘Sure enough, lampreys are simple vertebrates lacking jaws, teeth and a bony skeleton, whereas sharks are much more complex animals.’
- ‘Litman next plans to look for novel immune genes in jawless vertebrates, such as lamprey and hagfish.’
Middle English: from Old French lampreie, from medieval Latin lampreda, probably from Latin lambere ‘to lick’ + petra ‘stone’ (because the lamprey attaches itself to stones by its mouth).
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