Crayfish vs Crawfish Differences

I used to be like you, and I honestly didn’t know the difference between crayfish and crawfish. Like many, I thought they were two different varieties of fish. But the turning point came early last year when I decided to research it and discovered something mind-blowing.

Crayfish vs Crawfish

Crawfish aren’t lobsters, but they are a similar variety and resemble them. More than 500 categories of this crustacean reside in North America. Crawfish are scavenging omnivores, and they will consume live or lifeless things, like leaves, insects, or fish eggs. Predators like raccoons, reptiles, and muskrats see crawfish as a delicious delicacy as many people do.

Crayfish vs. Crawfish: What are They?

Before we descend into naming conventions, let’s talk about these creatures. Crawfish and crayfish are little freshwater crustaceans. They look a lot like tiny lobsters but are only located in freshwater creeks and streams. These fragile crustaceans have so many labels that it’s no surprise to people, even if you believe they imply more than one animal.

Depending on where you reside, you might learn that these creatures are called:

  • Crayfish
  • Crawdads
  • Crawdaddies
  • Mountain lobster
  • Rock lobster

The name you address these animals with practically just boils down to the part of the world you grew up in. In North America, they are known as “crayfish.” Peeps from the West Coast and other areas of the Midwest name them “crawdads,” and Southerners generally call them “crawfish.”

Crayfish vs. Crawfish

The other terms for them are inclined to be adopted in certain regions, mostly as a sort of slang. It gets even more rambling if you tour the world. In Australia, they’re named “yabbies” or “kouras,” and in Singapore, they’re dubbed freshwater lobsters.

So, crayfish and crawfish are the same.

Crayfish can be located just about anywhere with light, slow-moving freshwater, including lakes, streams, ponds, swamps, and rivers. Over 400 species and around 250 of them dwell in North America. This implies that these little creatures are really simple to find no matter where you reside.

The term “Crayfish” originates from the Old French word escrevisse (Contemporary French écrevisse). The term has been enhanced to “crayfish” by coalition with “fish.” The mainly popular American variant “crawfish” is derived similarly. Some crayfish are identified regionally as lobsters, crawdads, mudbugs, and yabbies. 

In the Eastern United States, “crayfish” is most popular in the north. At the same time, “crawdad” is known more in the middle and southwestern regions, and “crawfish” is in the distant south, although significant extensions exist.

There are dozens of varieties of crawfish in America’s creeks, rivers, and ponds that, at times, it appears like the words we have for them are just as innumerable. From the clinical and scientifically valid “crayfish” to the more striking “mudbug” to the more enigmatic but no less amusing “ditchbug” or “crawpappy,” the terminology of crawfish is a linguistic melting pot. 

But where did these names originate from? And what do they assert about the person who utilizes them?

How Did They Get so Many Names?

Sam Irwin matured in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, a small town with the huge name of “Crawfish Capital of the World.” Irwin’s origins in crawfish species go very deep: his grandfather was pivotal in carving the crawfish enterprise in St. Martin Parish, and Irwin himself has evolved to be an unofficial authority on the tiny crustaceans. 

He wrote the book on them. And after decades of researching the history, civilization, and business surrounding Procambarus clarkii (the scientific phrase for these animals). Irwin understands that out of the dozens of provincial aliases we’ve given these creatures, the term ‘crawfish’ has won out.

crayfish delicacy

To get to the core of the topic, I have referred to a research done by one of the most enterprising and intriguing studies of American linguistics: the Dictionary of American English (DARE), a documentation of how dialects vary in communities all over the country. 

Over one thousand people responded with more than 40 ways to relate to the creatures, from the typical to the less so. “Crawfish” and “Crawdad” were most popular. The less common were “water dogs” or “gumbadies.” The variety might seem astounding, but you’ll realize from there that it is certainly a popular topic for underwater-dwelling animals. 

One of the regions in which provincial variation seems to be particularly active and competent is in terms of fish and other aquatic creatures. From that viewpoint, you’ll see that this diversity of names is not surprising.

The picture is getting clearer now, isn’t it? Now, let us pull them apart and build their individual identities.

Crawfish vs. Crayfish: Their Individualities

The phrase “crawfish” was invented sometime in the 19th century. 

Presently it is predominant in American English, with a far-reaching expansion all through the country. The phrase derives from “crayfish,” but with a twist founded on the crawfish’s inclination to crawl. Its usage is “widespread,” but largely West-based and throughout the South and Midlands. 

In Louisiana, the residence of the crawfish enterprise and the heart from which America’s passion for crawfish grew, the common name that everybody utilizes is crawfish. Although in the ’50s, there were still around 1 million Louisiana dwellers, the Acadians, who spoke French as their main language. 

They identified the crustacean by its French name, écrevisse. That is the initial name from which most of the other offshoots were gotten. It’s a divergence from the aforementioned French term, écrevisse, which probably interprets an Old German phrase for crab, “krebiz.” 

Despite its etymological importance, “crayfish” is slightly more inclined to provoke a raised eyebrow or two; because it’s not very popular. You might not meet a Southerner who calls them this, particularly not in Louisiana. Crawfish has a delightful flavor with a little salt and mineral taste. 

Crawfish Crayfish

I know the flavor could be tough to depict, but one thing that’s certainly valid is that crawfish have an outstanding taste. It is also essential to note that raw crawfish have less salt than lobster.

Phew! It’s quite an extensive discourse, right? We’re about to round up now.

Are Crawfish Good for You?

Crawfish is loaded with high-quality protein!

Crawfish are scarce in fat and comprise only flickering quantities of carbohydrates. Crawfish are impressive in B Vitamins and minerals like Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, and Phosphorous. A 3-ounce serving of cook crawfish comprises 70 calories and 14 grams of protein.

Crayfish also called Crawfish or Crawdad, and all other names you know them with, are crustaceans, and many of them reside in freshwater, and a few reside in brackish or saltwater.


You didn’t know any of these before, right? I know. Neither did I at some point; I was once like you but thank God for the gift of knowledge. We now know better.

Thank you for reading; catch you next time!

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