aro·​wa·​na ˌa-rə-ˈwä-nə How to pronounce arowana (audio)
variants or less commonly aruana or arawana or arahuana
: any of several large, tropical, chiefly carnivorous freshwater fish (family Osteoglossidae and especially genera Osteoglossum and Scleropages) of South America, southeastern Asia, Australia, and Africa that have large bony scales, a toothed tongue, and a large mouth with an oblique gape

Note: Arowanas have a laterally compressed body and are typically silvery white, gold, red, or green. In the wild, some arowanas may reach a length of four feet (1.2 meters) or longer but are usually smaller when kept as aquarium fish.

called also bonytongue, dragonfish

compare pirarucu

Examples of arowana in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But to hunt the elusive arowana fish that can grow up to 4 feet, the Macushi use a bow and arrow, and Ramsay must make his own arrow for the adventure. National Geographic, 20 May 2020 After the ban, a booming black market for arowana emerged. Amy Qin, New York Times, 27 Mar. 2018 Though there are now legal methods of breeding and trading, arowana have still been sold for up to $300,000. Lilian Min, The Cut, 28 Mar. 2018 The overwhelming demand had a devastating effect on the wild population of arowana. Amy Qin, New York Times, 27 Mar. 2018 Asian arowana fish can grow up to three feet long, but these aquarium giants, seen as a status symbol in many East Asian cultures, aren’t exempt from the beauty standards that rule us all. Lilian Min, The Cut, 28 Mar. 2018 But the Asian arowana is not your average pet store fish. Amy Qin, New York Times, 27 Mar. 2018 The Asian arowana is the world’s most expensive aquarium fish. National Geographic, 17 July 2016 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'arowana.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from New Latin, specific epithet of Osteoglossum arowana (now O. bicirrhosum), borrowed from Guyanese Carib arawana "the fish Osteoglossum bicirrhosum" (or a like form in Macusi, Cariban language of southern Guyana and Brazil), borrowed, probably via Nheengatu (Tupi-based creole of Amazonia), from Tupi aruaná

First Known Use

1904, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of arowana was in 1904

Dictionary Entries Near arowana

Cite this Entry

“Arowana.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2023.

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