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[eel] /il/

noun, plural (especially collectively) eel (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) eels.
any of numerous elongated, snakelike marine or freshwater fishes of the order Apodes, having no ventral fins.
any of several similar but unrelated fishes, as the lamprey.
any teleost fish of the order Apodes (or Anguilliformes), such as the European freshwater species Anguilla anguilla, having a long snakelike body, a smooth slimy skin, and reduced fins
any of various other animals with a long body and smooth skin, such as the mud eel and the electric eel
an evasive or untrustworthy person

Old English æl, from Proto-Germanic *ælaz (cf. Old Frisian -el, Middle Dutch ael, Dutch aal, Old Saxon and Old High German al, German Aal, Old Norse all), of unknown origin, with no certain cognates outside Germanic. Used figuratively for slipperiness from at least 1520s.

Related Terms

manhattan eel
see: slippery as an eel


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