Definition of smew in English:



  • A small migratory merganser (diving duck) of northern Eurasia, the male of which has white plumage with a crest and fine black markings.

    Mergus albellus, family Anatidae

    • ‘There are birds in the garden that are rarely seen in London, such as the common sandpiper, sedge warbler and lesser whitethroat, with smew and goosander on the lake in winter.’
    • ‘We are given a wonderful account of visits to Attu, the desolate, westernmost of the Aleutian Islands - and holy grail of birders - to see smews, pochards, and stragglers blowing in from Siberia.’
    • ‘The previous day, we'd seen a white-tailed eagle, little gulls, three smew and, most remarkable of all, a great white egret.’
    • ‘The estate is home to a variety of bird life, from breeding common terns, nightingales and tufted ducks to vast numbers of wintering birds, such as wigeon, smew and goosander.’
    • ‘In winter, small numbers of Smews visit Britain and Ireland, mostly on large lakes, reservoirs and estuaries in East Anglia and south-east England.’


Late 17th century obscurely related to Dutch smient ‘wigeon’ and German Schmeiente ‘small wild duck’.