AskDefine | Define clam

Dictionary Definition



1 burrowing marine mollusk living on sand or mud
2 a piece of paper money worth one dollar [syn: dollar, dollar bill, one dollar bill, buck]
3 flesh of either hard-shell or soft-shell clams v : gather clams, by digging in the sand by the ocean [also: clamming, clammed]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /klæm/, /kl

Extensive Definition

A clam is a bivalve mollusk. The word "clam" has no real taxonomic significance in biology. However in the United States the word can sometimes be used to mean any bivalve mollusk. It more properly refers to a bivalve other than an oyster, mussel, or scallop, and that has a more-and-less oval shape, or a freshwater mussel.
The word clam is also very often used to mean any one of many edible bivalve species which live buried in mud or sand and communicates to the water by means of a siphon, hence, "digging for clams" or clam digging. Not all edible clams are round or oval in shape: the razor clam has an elongated shell whose shape suggests a straight razor.
In October 2007 an Arctica islandica clam caught off the coast of Iceland was discovered to be at least 405 years old,and was declared the world's oldest living animal by researchers from Bangor University, see Ming (clam).


A clam's shell consists of two valves which are connected by a hinge joint and a ligament that can be external or internal. Two adductor muscles close the shells. The clam has no head, and usually has no eyes, (scallops are a notable exception), but a clam does have kidneys, a heart, a mouth, and an anus. Clams have bilateral symmetry.
Clams, like most mollusks, also have open circulatory systems, which means that their organs are surrounded by watery blood that contains nutrients and oxygen. Clams eat plankton by filter feeding, and they themselves are eaten by small sharks and squid.
In culinary use, the term "clam" most often refers to the hard clam Mercenaria mercenaria but it may refer to several other species such as the soft-shell clam, Mya arenaria. Clams can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, baked or fried; the method of preparation depends partly on size and species. Clam chowder is a popular soup in the U.S. and Canada. In Italy, clams are often an ingredient of mixed seafood dishes, or are eaten together with pasta.
The Maxima clam Tridacna maxima, a species of giant clam, is popular with saltwater aquarium hobbyists.
The Moche people of ancient Peru worshiped the sea and its animals. They often depicted clams in their art.


clam in Arabic: محار ملزمي
clam in Min Nan: Lâ-á
clam in Danish: Musling
clam in German: Muscheln
clam in Spanish: Almeja
clam in French: Palourde
clam in Galician: Ameixa, molusco
clam in Italian: Vongola
clam in Portuguese: amêijoa
clam in Chinese: 蛤蜊
clam in Contenese: 蜆

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Chilopoda, Chordata, Dungeness crab, Echiuroidea, Ectoprocta, Entoprocta, Japanese crab, Laconian, Monoplacophora, Nemertinea, Phoronidea, Spartan, angle, bait the hook, blue point, bob, coquillage, crab, crawdad, crawfish, crayfish, dap, dib, dibble, drive, fish, fly-fish, gig, go fishing, grig, guddle, jack, jacklight, jig, laconic, langouste, limpet, littleneck clam, lobster, mussel, net, oyster, periwinkle, prawn, quahog, scallop, seine, shellfish, shrimp, snail, soft-shell crab, spin, steamer, still-fish, torch, trawl, troll, whale, whelk
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