Green’s Dictionary of Slang

herring n.

1. [late 16C+] a foolish, offensive or inconsequential person [? the commonness of the fish].

2. [1900s] (US) a cigar [like the fish it is smoked].

3. (US) a inhabitant of the maritime provinces.

4. [1930s–40s] (US) $1; a dollar [play on fish n.1 (2b)].

In compounds

herring-faced (adj.)

[early 17C+] worthless.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

herring-choker (n.) (also choke) [their consumption of herrings] [late 19C+]

1. (Can.) a nickname for a native or inhabitant of the Maritime Provinces.

2. (US) a Scandinavian-born immigrant.

herring-destroyer (n.)

[late 19C+] (US) a Scandinavian-born immigrant.


see separate entries.

herring-Jew (n.)

[1960s] (W.I.) a derog. term for a Jewish or Syrian immigrant, who founded their fortunes on peddling salt-fish.

herring pond (n.) (also herring-brook, herring ditch)

1. [late 17C+] the sea, esp. the Atlantic; thus be sent across the herring pond or cross the herring pond at the King’s expense, to be transported (albeit to Botany Bay, Australia, rather than America).

2. [mid-19C–1940s] the English Channel.

herring-snapper (n.)

[late 19C+] (US) a Scandinavian-born immigrant.