n. pl. eel or eels
1. Any of various long, snakelike, scaleless marine or freshwater fishes of the order Anguilliformes that lack pelvic fins and characteristically migrate from fresh water to salt water to spawn.
2. Any of several similar fishes, such as the lamprey and electric eel.
[Middle English ele, from Old English ǣl.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.