noun \pə-ˈrä-nə; -ˈrän-yə, -ˈran-\

: a small South American fish that has sharp teeth and that eats the flesh of animals

plural pi·ra·nhas or piranha

Full Definition of PIRANHA

:  any of various usually small South American characin fishes (genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus) that have very sharp teeth, often appear in schools, and include some that may attack and inflict dangerous wounds upon humans and large animals —called also caribe

Origin of PIRANHA

Portuguese, from Tupi pirã́ja, pirã́nʸa, from pirá fish + ã́ja, ã́nʸa tooth
First Known Use: 1861

Other Fishes Terms

char, chum, ichthyology, smelt, tetra, turbot


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Any of several species of deep-bodied, carnivorous fishes in the genus Serrasalmus (family Characidae), abundant in rivers of eastern and central South America and noted for voracity. The red-bellied piranha (S. nattereri) grows to 2 ft (60 cm) long, but most species are smaller. Some species are silvery with an orange belly and throat; others are almost completely black. All have sharp, saw-edged teeth that close in a scissorlike bite. Traveling in groups, they usually prey on other fishes, but red-bellied piranhas occasionally converge on larger animals. Though generally scavengers, they are attracted to the scent of blood and can quickly reduce even a large animal to a skeleton.

Variants of PIRANHA

piranha or caribe


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