Haddock and Églefin

Haddock / Églefin

Last night I discovered that the French word for haddock is églefin or aiglefin, but when smoked it’s called haddock, which is also spelled hadock and hadot. Other French names for the unsmoked fish include aigrefin, Âne, Ânon, Bourricot and Saint-Pierre.

The French églefin/aiglefin comes from the Latin aeglefinus, which in made up of aegle from the Greek αἴγλη (light, radiance, glory), and finus.

Haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus), is apparently also known as offshore hake in English, and the word haddock is thought to come from the Middle English haddok, the Anglio-Norman hadoc and the Old French hadot, the origins of which are uncertain.

Another word I learnt last night was houblon [‘ublɔ̃], which is French for hops (humulus lupulus), and I just like the sound of it.

This entry was posted in English, French, Language, Words and phrases.

11 Responses to Haddock and Églefin

  1. Paul S. says:

    Not unlike cod (Gadus morhua), which in Portuguese is bacalhau in its dried and salted state (“salt cod”), but bacalhau fresco (“fresh salt-cod”) when it’s just been pulled from the sea… [according to this book, anyway] …influences of northern European-British- Scandinavian fishing/curing practices on southern European-French-Mediterranean language and food?

  2. TJ says:

    is “aegle” also the root of “angel” ?

  3. Simon says:

    TJ – I think angel comes from the Latin angelus, which is a version of the Greek ἄγγελος (messenger).

  4. lukas says:

    bacalhau? That sounds oddly like Dutch kabeljauw, German Kabeljau “cod”. I wonder if there is a common origin.

  5. Petréa Mitchell says:

    Around here, the headline-grabbing fish is salmon, whose name comes via Old French, and may or may not ultimately derive from Latin salire “to leap”. But when smoked, it becomes lox, which comes via Yiddish from the Middle High German for “salmon”.

    Interestingly, the French-derived word “salmon” displaced an older English word for the fish which was a cognate to “lox”.

  6. Cefin gwlad says:

    lukas: of course — now that you come to mention it!

    See the discussion at http://www.groupsrv.com/science/ntopic97179.html

  7. Christopher Miller says:

    For Petrea:

    More about lox and salmon here:


    Interestingly, in Malay/Indonesian and Tagalog, laksa means 10 000, not 100 000 as in India.

  8. Sandra says:

    @Paul S and lukas
    Same variation in French: fresh cod is “cabillaud” (which sounds a lot like kabeljauw and Kabeljau, by the way) and when dried and salted, it is “morue”.
    About the aiglefin, I think that saint-pierre is another fish completely (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint-pierre) and I have found another etymology, although less poetic than yours. It would come from the Dutch “schelvish”, meaning “haddock”. All the details in the French “etymology bible” here http://www.cnrtl.fr/definition/%C3%A9glefin and here http://www.cnrtl.fr/definition/aigrefin. Apparently, the special meaning of aigrefin as “swindler” comes from the Dutch word used as an insult whereas églefin, with the same etymology, has specialised in the fish meaning.

  9. Diarmuid says:

    @Petréa Mitchell
    In County Kildare near Dublin there is a placename of Viking origin called Leixlip…you can guess the origin 🙂
    For a clue in Irish it is Léim an Bhradáin

  10. Yenlit says:

    And of course there’s Laxey (Manx: Laksaa) on the Isle of Man as well.

  11. thomas bailey says:

    and Lax is swedish/viking/norse for Salmon – so variants are common in the north and east of the british isles

    linguistically the french often either drop the english letter L which in the case of SA(L)MON is silent as it is in A(L)MOND in some English dialects – or they change the L to a U – common examples are: Almond = Amande, Salmon = Saumon, Cheval = (in Plural) Chevaux, Bel/Belle = Beau, palm = paume, balm = baume, chalk = chaux etc etc


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