Definition of minnow in US English:



  • 1A small freshwater Eurasian cyprinoid fish that typically forms large shoals.

    Phoxinus phoxinus, family Cyprinidae

    • ‘Many pond owners do not permit the use of minnows as bait because the minnows may be small, undesirable fish.’
    • ‘The boys used a net to lift the fish from the mud and took it to their mum, a keen fish keeper who already owns guppies, minnows and a goldfish.’
    • ‘Our flight attendant didn't have to ask to gauge my level of interest in the complimentary muffin - my demeanor wasn't far from that of a baby bird pining for a little extra minnow.’
    • ‘Mostly fishermen trolling the various types of spinners and natural minnow as well as to wet fly caught lots of trout on the first day of the season.’
    • ‘Stoneloach have been present in the Durkadale Burn in Birsay for the past 15 to 20 years, but minnow have arrived there within the last two or three years.’
    • ‘A belted kingfisher undulated past, some unlucky minnow in its stiletto-like bill.’
    • ‘We also collected a sample of age - 0 bass from the littoral region of Beaver Lake in 1988 with a 4.8 mm mesh minnow seine.’
    • ‘Fish were collected from field sites with minnow traps or seines and fatally anesthetized with MS - 222 (Sigma).’
    • ‘They can also consume small fish such as minnows and plant material such as algae.’
    • ‘For Tom had gone back to his childhood to make minnow traps by carefully knocking out the bubble in the bottom of the bottles, baiting them with bits of sardine and lowering them into some of the quieter pools on the beck.’
    • ‘We restricted our sampling to the use of minnow traps for two reasons.’
    • ‘Other species caught included a handful of pike up to about five pounds in weight and a single chub, plus minnows and bullheads too numerous to count.’
    • ‘If little Amanda or Johnny want to fish for minnow with their nets there's also somewhere for them to go.’
    • ‘Terpe boxed one keeper that just mustered the 10-inch minimum length limit, and I fed five minnows to mysto-tappers - bream or small yellow bass.’
    • ‘There are also rudd, bream, eels, gudgeon, crucian carp, tench, minnows, perch, sticklebacks, the odd trout, pike and barbel present.’
    • ‘A small number of juvenile cod were collected using minnow traps.’
    • ‘The water in the ditch is too shallow for fish to live in but I bend down toward it, hoping in vain to find a school of tiny minnow.’
    • ‘The nematodes, the leaves, and the minnows go about their business quite oblivious to my complicated world.’
    • ‘Baitfish comprise the minnows, shiners, and chubs.’
    • ‘Specimens of Gillichthys mirabilis were caught using baited minnow traps in Elkhorn Slough, approximately 20 km north of Monterey, Calif.’
    1. 1.1 Any fish of the family Cyprinidae, the largest family of fishes, which includes carps, shiners, spinefins, squawfishes, chubs, daces, and stonerollers.
      • ‘Grass owls, Cape clawless & spotted neck otters, fish eagles, and dare I say it, two species of indigenous minnow, all thrive.’
      • ‘In fact, bluntnose minnows are probably the most abundant freshwater fish in the eastern United States.’
      • ‘The ‘slab’ crappie that grabs a shiner minnow or small jig requires only a soft lift of a limber tip to set the thin-wire hook.’
      • ‘Another environmentalist land grab is underway in six states to protect the Topeka shiner, a minnow.’
      • ‘For such a pond, golden shiners, bluntnose minnows, or fathead minnows may be stocked to provide food for the bass.’
      • ‘Tests carried out by researchers on the sunbleak and fathead minnow saw the two species of carp succumb to the parasite, which is an almost identical match to the Rosette Agent identified in America almost 20 years ago.’
      • ‘The House Energy and Water Appropriation bill is likely to condemn the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow to extinction.’
      • ‘Defenders also is trying to ensure the availability of reservoir water if needed to save the Rio Grande silvery minnow from extinction in the wild.’
      • ‘Senator Domenici's rider would exempt activities harmful to the endangered silvery minnow from the Endangered Species Act.’
      • ‘As the name implies, mudminnows are small fish, often found over mud substrates; but they are not true minnows (family Cyprinidae).’
      • ‘Years of unsustainable water management have led to endangerment of numerous species, including the Southwestern willow flycatcher and the Rio Grande silvery minnow.’
      • ‘I promptly lost another minnow and Terpe boxed a 12-inch crappie.’
      • ‘The Rio Grande silvery minnow may only be four inches long, but its role in shaping New Mexico's future could be huge.’
      • ‘The Supreme Court has denied a petition that could have saved the endangered silvery minnow, the final survivor in a group of small native Rio Grande fishes, from extinction.’
      • ‘Stream flows and key fish habitat for endangered species such as the Colorado pike minnow and razorback sucker will be significantly impacted.’
      • ‘And it's the last stronghold for 25 native fish species, including the rare shovelnose sturgeon, the sturgeon chub and the western silvery minnow.’
      • ‘Economic activities such as grazing can be compatible with conservation of the spikedace and loach minnow provided that their habitat is maintained in good condition.’
      • ‘The Rio Grande silvery minnow was listed in 1994 as endangered because of extensive habitat loss due to water diversions.’
      • ‘Our goal is to improve conditions for not only the Rio Grande silvery minnow but all of us.’
      • ‘A hook size of about number 6 is good for large lobworms and small deadbaits, such as gudgeon, minnow and small roach, which should be lip-hooked.’
    2. 1.2 Used in names of similar small freshwater fishes, e.g., mudminnow, topminnow.
      • ‘Although called a minnow, the topminnow is not really a minnow but belongs to the family Fundulidae.’
      • ‘The central mudminnow – not a true minnow – was first recorded in Maine in 1999 from the Orono–Old Town area.’
    3. 1.3Fishing An artificial lure imitating a minnow.
      • ‘I always take a big selection of Sea-Ducers Bend backs, Clouser minnows and Lefty Kreh Deceivers in sizes from 1's through to 4/0's in various colour combinations.’
      • ‘An inconsistent aspect of the ‘killer bait’ status of the thin minnow is that it does a poor job of imitating the nature forage of largemouth bass.’
      • ‘He made a roll cast and one false cast, dropping the size 4 red eyed Clouser minnow in white and chartreuse four feet ahead of the fish, which quickly dived for this morsel of food.’
      • ‘When chasing bass I would always want a few Clousers minnows in various colours especially chartreuse and white, some Lefty Kreh Deceivers, and a few sand eel patterns and poppers.’
      • ‘All you need is a rod capable of casting a fast sinking eight or nine weight line fitted with a two foot leader of about 15 lb breaking strain and a selection of Clouser minnows in size 2's and 4's.’
      • ‘A Clouser minnow is without doubt, in my opinion, probably the best pattern of all.’
      • ‘He shouts for me to trade places with him while he rigs a spinning rod with a large plastic minnow, a hefty deep-sea plug bristling with multiple sets of treble hooks.’
      • ‘Another standout in the collection is the first patented jointed minnow lure made by the K & K Manufacturing Co. of Toledo.’
      • ‘Then there are the plastic Yo-Zuri Arc minnows which can be utterly fantastic on their day.’
      • ‘Kirkpatrick also mentioned a reliable late-day bite now on hard minnow imitations.’
      • ‘I reckon if you have a selection of Clousers minnows and Deceivers in various colours and hook sizes, then you can probably catch most of the salt and many freshwater fish.’
      • ‘Fishing a chartreuse and white clouser minnow, I was soon catching ladyfish, but it was one of those baby tarpon I wanted - but I couldn't get one to take.’
      • ‘Jig or minnow, a thin-wire hook with a wide gap should be used.’
      • ‘While trolling a Blue Phantom minnow in the tidal water, the Bishop of Stepney hooked a massive fish that dragged his little rowing boat up the Earn, then out again among the shipping of the Tay estuary.’
      • ‘Bishop G. F. Browne, the then Bishop of Stepney, was trolling a blue phantom minnow at the top of the Tay estuary near the mouth of the Earn, hoping to intercept a running fish on the incoming tide.’
      • ‘The lures being used are mostly soft plastics or minnows, getting down to 5-10 feet.’
      • ‘The teasing dip and flutter of a stop-and-go thin minnow pushes the right button for bass along the warming shorelines of spring.’
  • 2A person or organization of relatively small size, power, or influence.

    • ‘Allen is more convincing in disentangling Opus Dei's opaque accounting systems to show that, while it does have many millions, next to the accumulated wealth of many large Catholic archdioceses, it is a financial minnow.’
    • ‘They certainly deserved it, the Northern Counties East League minnows having produced a display well above their station.’
    • ‘It is his second major play since taking control of listed mining minnow Buka Minerals in December last year, in alliance with a group of investors including high profile Melbourne property tycoon Ron Walker.’
    • ‘In contrast to the general picture in the technology sector, data storage minnow InTechnology recently had to put out a cautionary note that its profits were likely to be ‘significantly ahead’ of general stock market expectations.’
    • ‘At €12,000, it comes with a relative minnow of a price tag.’
    • ‘Ireland will be better next week than last but then Scotland will be determined to erase their own shame of defeat to the supposed minnows and sixth nation, Italy.’
    • ‘The Afghan national army is a minnow alongside the 85,000 armed fighters in the ranks of regional warlords.’
    • ‘Two minnows operating in this part of Africa are the Australian company, Perth-based Hardman Resources, and the bigger Canadian minnow, Heritage Oil.’
    • ‘As if the likes of Carlton Communications or Granada, the UK's largest advertising-funded broadcasters but minnows on the international stage, could even contemplate such a move.’
    • ‘They are the mighty minnows of the national league, a wee club with limited history and resources, but an indomitable instinct for survival.’
    • ‘Dunbar-based drinks minnow Belhaven has continued to confound the pessimists with bubbling trading results and analysts now expect profits to rise from #5.7m to at least #7.2m in the current year.’
    • ‘Yet the 3D modelling technology, developed by Scottish software minnow Lovejoy, is now being used on other projects which the MoD has blocked, including the smaller Ewehill project nearby.’
    • ‘In recent seasons the Pumas have taken the Boks to within a point of defeat and they actually have more chance of beating the big three than the three current minnows of the Six Nations - Wales, Scotland and Italy.’
    • ‘It's one thing to play games with the minnows, but companies as large as Honda and Renault are as hard-nosed as they come.’
    • ‘A number of shareholders in Glencar, an Irish exploration minnow, will oppose the re-election of its chief executive Hugh McCullough at its annual meeting in Dublin next Wednesday.’
    • ‘Still, Leinster's football minnows produced a competitive, closely fought contest and while the home side just about deserved their two points win, Erins Own took much of the honours from the game.’
    • ‘As a result, Bulldog has only attracted 80,000 users to its broadband and telephony service - a minnow in the broadband market.’
    • ‘Modest sums in the wider sphere perhaps, but it was an indication that the firm, a minnow on the market, was at least moving in the right direction.’
    • ‘Among the most ardent of these believers is Graham Stewart, the chief executive of Aberdeen-based Faroe Petroleum - a listed oil minnow with a sizeable exposure to the west of Shetland region in both UK and Faroese waters.’
    • ‘It would seem unlikely that an international soccer minnow such as Japan would produce one of the world's greatest midfielders, but Sawa certainly deserves her praise.’


Late Middle English: probably related to Dutch meun and German Münne, influenced by Anglo-Norman French menu ‘small, minnow’.