AskDefine | Define smelt

Dictionary Definition



1 small cold-water silvery fish; migrate between salt and fresh water
2 small trout-like silvery marine or freshwater food fishes of cold northern waters v : extract (metals) by heatingsmell


1 the sensation that results when olfactory receptors in the nose are stimulated by particular chemicals in gaseous form; "she loved the smell of roses" [syn: odor, odour, olfactory sensation, olfactory perception]
2 any property detected by the olfactory system [syn: olfactory property, aroma, odor, odour, scent]
3 the general atmosphere of a place or situation and the effect that it has on people; "the feel of the city excited him"; "a clergyman improved the tone of the meeting"; "it had the smell of treason" [syn: spirit, tone, feel, feeling, flavor, flavour, look]
4 the faculty of smell [syn: sense of smell, olfaction, olfactory modality]
5 the act of perceiving the odor of something [syn: smelling]


1 inhale the odor of; perceive by the olfactory sense
2 emit an odor; "The soup smells good"
3 smell bad; "He rarely washes, and he smells" [also: smelt]smelt See smell

User Contributed Dictionary



Etymology 1

From smelt.


  1. a family of small anadromous fish common in the North American Great Lakes
a family of small fish

Etymology 2

From very early smel; likely to derive from , but not recorded.


  1. past of smell
simple past tense of smell
past participle of smell

Etymology 3

Variant of the stem of meltan.


  1. Production of metal from ore; or, any of the various liquids or semi-molten solids produced and used during the course of such production.
    • 1982, Raymond E. Kirk and Donald F. Othmer, Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, Wiley, ISBN 0471020729, page 405,
      The green liquor, ie, [sic] the solution obtained on dissolving the smelt, contains an insoluble residue called dregs, which gives it a dark green appearance.
    • 1996, Arthur J. Wilson, The Living Rock: The Story of Metals Since Earliest Time and Their Impact on Civilization,
      When the smelt was complete the crucible could be lifted out and the metal poured directly into the moulds, thus avoiding the need to break it up and remelt […]
    • 1997, Anthony Lawrence Kohan, Boiler Operator’s Guide, Fourth Edition, McGraw-Hill, ISBN 0-07-036574-1, page 159–160,
      […] (2) reaction between a weak or low solid concentration black liquor that is sprayed into the furnace and then because of its high water content, reacts with the smelt in the furnace; and […]
    • 1998, Deanna J. Richards, Greg Pearson, National Academy of Engineering, The Ecology of Industry: Sectors and Linkages
      Dissolving the smelt liberates some hydrogen sulfide and particular matter […]
    • 2000, Julian Henderson, The Science and Archaeology of Materials: An Investigation of Inorganic Materials,
      […] can vary in different positions in the furnace and during the smelt.
      Furnaces are unlikely to survive the smelts; all that often remains on metal production sites is just furnace bases and broken fragments of furnaces […]
    • 2002, Jenny Moore, “Who Lights the Fire? Gender and the Energy of Production”, in Moira Donald and Linda Hurcombe (eds.), Gender and Material Culture in Archaeological Perspective, Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 0312223986, page 130,
      Women are allowed to play some small part in the smelt if they are breastfeeding or post-menopausal (van der Merwe and Avery, 1988).
process of producing iron and steel from iron ore


  1. to fuse two things into one, especially when involving ores; to meld
to fuse two things into one





  1. first person singular present tense of smelten
  2. singular imperative of smelten

Extensive Definition

Smelts are a family, Osmeridae, of small anadromous fish. They are common in the North American Great Lakes and in the lakes and seas of the northern part of Europe, and run in large schools along the coastline during their spring migration to their spawning streams. The family consists of some sixteen species in six genera.
The fish usually reach only 15 cm and are a food source for salmon and lake trout. It is one of the few fish that sportsmen are allowed to net, using dip nets, either along the coastline or in the streams. Some sportsmen also ice fish for smelt. Smelt are often fried and eaten whole.
Smelt has a character odour, similar to the smell of cucumbers. Smelt roe is bright orange in color, and is often used to garnish sushi.

Smelt Dipping

In Michigan and other northern states, "smelt dipping" is a common sport in the early spring months (generally late April in the Upper Peninsula, when the stream water reaches approximately 4°C). Fish are simply spotted using a flashlight (the best smelt dipping is in the middle of the night) and scooped out of the water using a dip net made of nylon or metal mesh. To clean a smelt, simply remove the head and the entrails. Fins, scales, and bones of all but the largest of smelts will soften when the smelts are cooked and do not need to be removed. It is often a social gathering.
On the Maine coast, smelts were also a sign of spring, with the run of these small fish up tiny tidal estuaries. Many of these 'rivers' were small enough that a person could straddle the water and, leaning over, dip a bucket and get a good catch of smelt. Also good place to find smelts are by rocks in the middle of the river and by the banks by the river bed.


Smelts have been traditionally an important winter catch in the salt water mouths of rivers in New England and the Maritime Provinces of Canada. Fishermen would go to customary locations over the ice using horses and sleighs. Smelt taken out of the cold salt water were much preferred to those taken in warm water. The smelt did not command a high price on the market, but provided a useful supplemental income in times when wants were much less. The smelts were "flash frozen" simply by leaving them on the ice and then sold to fish buyers who came down the rivers on horse and sleigh. They were also an excellent winter meal. They were gutted, heads and tails removed and rinsed in cold water then dipped in flour mixed with salt and pepper and fried in butter. Served with boiled potatoes and pickled beets, they were a welcome addition to winter fare.
A variety of Smelt, the Delta Smelt is found in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The Delta Smelt is a protected species.
Catholics of Italian heritage on the Northeastern coast of America often eat smelts as part of Christmas Eve dinner.
Kelso, Washington along the Columbia River in the Northwestern United States is listed as the "Smelt Capital of the World".

External links

smelt in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Корушка
smelt in German: Stinte
smelt in French: Eperlan
smelt in Lithuanian: Stintinės
smelt in Dutch: Spieringen
smelt in Polish: Stynkowate
smelt in Swedish: Norsfiskar

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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