[mass noun] The small silvery-white young of herrings, sprats, and similar marine fish, eaten in numbers as food.
- ‘‘Wild puffins normally eat live whitebait, sprats and sand eels which they dive in the sea for,’ said Mrs Platts.’
- ‘It's illegal in New Zealand to sell any native fish without a permit - apart from whitebait.’
- ‘You can cook any fish by this method, though I will agree that whitebait are fiddly.’
- ‘Finns eat whitebait fried, or in a dill sauce, or in a garlic sauce, or in a tomato sauce, or baked in bread.’
- ‘In Dorset, mackerel usually arrive in June, as they chase the sand eels and whitebait inshore, sometimes chasing them right up onto the beach.’