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I recently stumbled upon the phrase spring lobster. Never having heard of such a phrase, I tried to find a definition of it online, but nothing definitive surfaced (although an entire industry does seem to have been built around it in Maine, other parts of New England, and Northeastern Canada).

Can anyone tell me what spring lobster is and how it differs from other types of lobster?

Context:

"Spring lobster" first caught my attention while I was adding to my Turkish for English speakers memrise course. I was doing a section on seafood you might see on a restaurant menu. Using Tureng.com as a resource, I saw a listing for "spring lobster" but the Turkish name given for it was "böcek," which oddly enough, I'd just learned also means "insect" in Turkish. Naturally, that piqued my curiosity. When I went searching for it online, however, I came across these articles that, as tchrist mentioned, seemed to write about spring lobsters as if they were something some look forward to every year.

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    In winter, lobsters can't be captured. Lobster season starts in spring. I don't think that the taste or the physical characteristics change according to seasons.In the expression "spring lobster fishery", spring qualifies "fishery", not "lobster".
    – Graffito
    Aug 10, 2015 at 0:05
  • It’s the spring season for lobster fishing not the season for fishing spring lobsters.
    – tchrist
    Aug 10, 2015 at 0:32
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    @Graffito Actually, they can be captured in winter.
    – tchrist
    Aug 10, 2015 at 3:53
  • @Graffito - I'm no lobster connoisseur, but this was interesting so I did some reading and found lots of people talking about the variability in taste and texture according to the time of year. Aug 10, 2015 at 4:06
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    As an aside to your aside, "lobsters really are cockroaches of the sea." Although, actually, saying "insects are lobsters on land" might be more appropriate since I think lobsters might have come first. Just commenting on maybe why lobster is called "insect" in Turkish. (The same thing occurs in Mandarin, too. The words for "dolphin" actually contain parts of the word for "pig," a nod to the dolphin's evolutionary heritage.) Mar 23, 2017 at 11:26

3 Answers 3

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One difference between spring lobster and summer lobster might be that in the summer I believe you'd have a choice of hard shell and soft shell lobster. Soft shell means the lobster molted recently, and there are some differences in taste and texture.

I found a quote about the spring lobster that might help:

Many will argue that lobster from the spring fishery is better than lobster fished later in the summer from waters that have warmed up over the season.

--- Edit --- I take that back. Here is a definition:

A related marine crustacean of the family Palinuridæ, Palinurus vulgaris, the sea-crawfish, is known as the spring lobster, rock-lobster, and spiny lobster.

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    Except that Palinurus vulgaris (normally P. elephas) doesn’t live in the cold waters off New England: it lives in the warm Mediterranean, and so cannot be what she’s talking about. The spiny lobsters are warm-water creatures, not cold water ones. The clawed lobsters from Maine aren’t even very closely related to those ones: they’re a totally different family. We even have a question about this. :)
    – tchrist
    Aug 10, 2015 at 3:33
  • @tchrist - How did you figure out the reference the OP stumbled upon was from that part of the world? Did I miss something? Aug 10, 2015 at 3:59
  • Her references to the spring lobster season that has an entire industry built from it in the Northeast. It is of course possible that this is unrelated.
    – tchrist
    Aug 10, 2015 at 4:00
  • @tchrist - Ah. Well, the sense that I got from the Maine and Canadian lobster industry web articles I looked at was that people got excited about eating spring lobsters the way we used to get excited about eating a certain fruit when it came into season (before fruit traveled in airplanes halfway across the world). Aug 10, 2015 at 4:10
  • "Spring lobster" first caught my attention while I was adding to my Turkish for English speakers memrise course. I was doing a section on seafood you might see on a restaurant menu. Using Tureng.com as a resource, I saw a listing for "spring lobster" but the Turkish name given for it was "böcek," which oddly enough, I'd just learned also means "insect" in Turkish. Naturally, that piqued my curiosity. When I went searching for it online, however, I came across these articles that, as @tchrist mentioned, seemed to write about spring lobsters as if they were s.th. some look forward to every year.
    – Lisa Beck
    Aug 21, 2015 at 2:29
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The OED lists "spring-lobster" under the verbal stem, implying that it means a lobster that springs or jumps: nothing to do with the season.

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Depending on context, this could be a playful alteration of the phrase "spring chicken", meaning a youngster.

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  • I like this suggestion as well. In fact, it made me LQTM, but again, I don't think that's it. See my comment above.
    – Lisa Beck
    Aug 21, 2015 at 2:17

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