north Atlantic food fish of great commercial value, Old English hering (Anglian), hæring (West Saxon), from West Germanic *heringgaz (source also of Old Frisian hereng, Middle Dutch herinc, German Hering), of unknown origin. Perhaps from a source related to or influenced in form by Old English har "gray, hoar," from the fish's color, or from the source of Old High German heri "host, multitude" in reference to its moving in large schools.
French hareng, Italian aringa are from Germanic. The Battle of the Herrings (French bataille des harengs) is the popular name for the action at Rouvrai, Feb. 12, 1492, fought in defense of a convoy of provisions, mostly herrings and other "lenten stuffe."
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