<zoology> Any one of numerous species of large, flat elasmobranch fishes of the genus Raia, having a long, slender tail, terminated by a small caudal fin. The pectoral fins, which are large and broad and united to the sides of the body and head, give a somewhat rhombic form to these fishes. The skin is more or less spinose.
Some of the species are used for food, as the European blue or gray skate (Raia batis), which sometimes weighs nearly 200 pounds. The American smooth, or barn-door, skate (R. Laevis) is also a large species, often becoming three or four feet across. The common spiny skate (R. Erinacea) is much smaller. Skate's egg. See Sea purse. Skate sucker, any marine leech of the genus Pontobdella, parasitic on skates.
Origin: Icel. Skata; cf. Prov. G. Schatten, meer-schatten, L. Squatus, squatina, and E. Shad.
(01 Mar 1998)
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