plural bonitos or bonito
: any of several swift-swimming scombroid fishes (genus Sarda) that are typically dark blue to bluish-green with dark stripes and a silvery belly, that are intermediate in size between the related mackerel and tuna, and that are valued as food and sport fishes
… the Atlantic bonito not only strikes hard …, the fish is also excellent table fare.Star-News (Wilmington, North Carolina)
Pacific bonito are related to tuna and can grow to 20 pounds.Allen Bushnell
also : a closely related fish (such as a dogtooth tuna or little tunny)
: skipjack tuna
For tuna—bluefin … and bonito—the fishermen … would drag a net between two boats …Mark Kurlansky
My mother adopted the habit of offering as a condiment dried bonito flakes …Corby Kummer

Examples of bonito in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Here, chunky golden nuggets of silken tofu are coated in corn scratch and lightly fried before being placed in a shallow pool of broth made from dashi, soy sauce and sweet mirin then topped with bonito flakes, spicy radish sprouts and ginger. Keith Pandolfi, The Enquirer, 16 Apr. 2024 Alexander Baxter Lobster, rye, and bonito leaves in bowls by ceramicist Cara Guthrie. Sarah Wood, Vogue, 19 Mar. 2024 Local angler Tyler Arrington fished offshore of Haulover Inlet in 125 feet of water and caught gaffer-size dolphins, kingfish, lots of bonitos, sailfish and lost a nice wahoo at boat side. Alan Sherman, Miami Herald, 30 Jan. 2024 Special touches include the bonito, which is cured in brandy for a hint of smokiness, and Hokkaido scallop, which is kissed with black truffle salt. Elycia Rubin, The Hollywood Reporter, 24 Oct. 2023 Designed in the image of the beloved Bon Bon Bon chocolate truffle cube, the Bone-Eat-O is made of peanut butter, oats and bonito flakes and is so popular, the limited quantity bites may just sell out before your pals from the dog park will have a chance at a taste. Lyndsay C. Green, Detroit Free Press, 12 Aug. 2023 Dominoes of bonito from Spain’s Atlantic coast were smoked over thyme and sage, then served with pistachios, ponzu, and umbrellas of spicy nasturtium. Matt Goulding, Travel + Leisure, 7 July 2023 From then until September, small bonito del norte (albacore) are fished by line and rod, carted ashore and sold at auction. Daniela Galarza, Washington Post, 29 Jan. 2023 No one treats vegetables as creatively as Kluger, and fans will be happy to see garden-forward dishes like local radishes with grapefruit and mint; sugar snap peas with bonito vinaigrette and buttermilk; English pea and fava fritters; and carrot hummus. William Li, Town & Country, 29 June 2023

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

Word History


Spanish, from bonito pretty, diminutive of bueno good, from Latin bonus

First Known Use

1541, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of bonito was in 1541

Dictionary Entries Near bonito

Cite this Entry

“Bonito.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


bo·​ni·​to bə-ˈnēt-ō How to pronounce bonito (audio)
plural bonitos or bonito
: any of various medium-sized tunas

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