clawfish n [Perh folk-etym for crawfish, though of course literally applicable to all of these creatures, which have more or less prominent claws. The word is first (but rarely) attested in English sources.]
1 Generally, any of var larger marine decapod crustaceans; sometimes appar applied specifically to one or another variety of these. Cf crawfish n B2
1824 NY Eve. Post (NY) 15 June /6, [Advt:] Whereas the claw fish denominated Crab, has become somewhat scarce in the markets of our city, application will be made to the next legislature for a charter for a bank, to be called the Crab Bank, to be located at the foot of the Pike Slip, in the 7th ward, with a capital of $35, with privilege to increase to $50. 1828 Youth’s Companion 2.19, Scorpions . . . have each two long arms coming out of the head, and ending like lobsters’ claws. The body is like that of a claw-fish, or crab, having eight legs covered with hair. 1872 Oakland Daily Transcript (CA) 3 July 3/2, The lobster got John’s thumb in his claws. . . John went off with his thumb in his mouth and we reckon he will be careful how he goes for “claw-fish” in a hurry. 1901 Asbury Park Daily Press (NJ) 5 Feb 1/3, Mr. Sperling resides in the Plaza cottage and whenever the weather looks good for crabs he goes to the beach and hunts the claw fish with great energy. 1937 Allentown Morning Call (PA) 24 Oct 15/1, [Advt:] Clawfish Tails lb 39c. 1961 Tampa Tribune (FL) 15 Aug 20/4, Most of the activity around the marina has been along the city’s fishing pier. The crabs are just starting to show up there in numbers, and folks are busy pulling in lines of the tasty clawfish. 1962 Eve. Sun (Baltimore MD) 15 Feb sec D 13/1, Clarence A. Walton Displays 12½-pound lobster caught while codfishing off Ocean City. . . Walton’s was the only clawfish of the day, however. 1966 DARE Tape NC1, Down in South Florida in the Gulf, they have a fish down there that’s something similar to a lobster only he don’t have the big claw—which the proper name of it is a crawfish but they really call him a lobster. . . You’ve seen lobsters haven’t you? . . You know they have one great, large claw. Well, this clawfish doesn’t have it. 2013 Morning Call (Allentown PA) 13 Sept sec A 10/2, [Advt:] Tokyo Seafood Buffet & Grill. . . Lobster with Special Sauce / Jumbo Shrimp • Calamari / Coconut Shrimp • Claw Fish.
2 = crawfish n B1.
1831 Amer. Turf Reg. 3.129, These fresh water lobsters we suppose to be what boys catch about country mill-dams, and call claw fish. 1835 Tarboro’ Press (Tarborough NC) 29 Aug 1/1, I am no office hunter . . ; but a plain farmer, in the habit of driving the tarrapins, minks, frogs, and claw fish, from their long sequestered peaceful habitations in the swamps. 1839 Amer. Farmer & Spirit 1.74, Like water dam’d up, it will escape, if not through a claw-fish or muskrat hole, it will break through or over the dam. 1884 Harper’s Young People 5.671 NY, We have an aquarium, which we are trying to fill with fish, turtles, claw-fish, lizards. etc. 1912 Buffalo Commercial (NY) 4 Apr 7/1, Just the kind of place for the big shy old fellows to hide and lay in wait for some unsuspecting claw-fish or minnow. 1966–69 DARE (Qu. P19, . . Small, freshwater crayfish) Infs ME20, MA32, Clawfish.
1773 Parkinson Jrl. Voyage to the South Seas 180, They have [in Batavia] a plentiful market of fish, which is the favourite food of the Malays, but no great variety: Claw-fish, shell-fish, and particularly oysters, though small, are pretty good.
<Eighteenth Century Collections Online; ESTC#: T147793>
1808 Williamson Oriental Field Sports 2.177, The greater part of the fish in India are excellent for the table. . . Eels, shrimps, prawns, and claw fish abound, as do mullets.