… Bob was catfishing off a floating Ohio River dock near Eight Mile Road east of Cincinnati one early summer evening …—Kentucky Happy Hunting Ground
transitive: to deceive (someone) by creating a false personal profile online
"They never actually met. She was an online thing. They'd been talking for over a year. We were all pretty sure she was catfishing him, but he was convinced she was legit and that they were in love."—R. L. Naquin
"Heather" stopped messaging me abruptly several months after we started talking. She was a grown woman, and I never lied about how young I was. Even so, I've never been quite sure which one of us was being catfished.—Vanessa Vitiello Uruhart
… this novel is timely due to recent high-profile examples of "catfishing"—where an individual creates a false online identity, often with deceptive or malicious romantic goals. —Ryan F. Paulsen
Did you know?
For centuries, a catfish was merely a type of fish with a distinctive face. Then, in 2010, Ariel Schulman released Catfish, a documentary about his brother Nev's experiences with a woman who pretended to be someone else online. (The movie was popular enough to spawn a television show by the same title.) In the documentary, the woman's husband explained the title with an anecdote about how fishermen transporting live cod used to put catfish in with the cod on long-haul shipments to keep the desirable cod active and alert until arrival. The man implied that his wife was like those catfish, keeping the lives of others fresh and interesting.
Examples of catfish in a Sentence
Recent Examples on the Web
Factors like location and time of year will affect how much catfish eat.—Outdoor Life, 30 Nov. 2023 And the fried catfish is some of the best in town, with a rugged exterior that’s profoundly crisp around fluffy meat in the center.—Jenn Harris, Los Angeles Times, 13 Nov. 2023 Monofilament and braided lines are among the best lines for catfish.—Pete M. Anderson, Field & Stream, 28 Sep. 2023 The dense but yielding fish cakes underscore her love of lemongrass, which doesn’t hide the presence of fresh dill and lime leaves in the ground catfish.—Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, 17 Nov. 2023 Advertisement On the other side of the Atlantic, near Gambia, a worker from Senegal on a Chinese trawler called the Victory 205 said he had been pricked by a catfish barb while wearing flip-flops.—Los Angeles Times, 7 Nov. 2023 The right mix of those creates the best catfish rods.—Pete M. Anderson, Field & Stream, 28 Sep. 2023 Blue catfish are the largest of North America’s native catfish, though they’re not considered abundant in Delaware.—Outdoor Life, 27 Sep. 2023 So, just as Maryland chefs have done with local invasive species like catfish and snakehead, Italian cooks are coming up with dishes aimed at encouraging diners to add crabs to their diet.—Amanda Yeager, Baltimore Sun, 30 Aug. 2023
Megan appears for real after Maslany’s character Jennifer Walters — who doubles as a lawyer and a superhuman green monster — is hired to sue an Asgardian shapeshifter who pretended to be the artist in order to catfish Drew Matthews’ character, Dennis Bukowski.—Hannah Dailey, Billboard, 1 Sep. 2022 But her judgment is also clouded by loneliness, which prompts her to catfish Danny’s brother, Paul (Young Mazino).—Sonia Rao, Washington Post, 6 Apr. 2023 In the dramedy, which marked her film debut, Sulewski plays a waitress, Becca, whose image is used by a dad to catfish his son on a dating app.—Grace Smith, Peoplemag, 27 Mar. 2023 Why do people catfish?—Natalie Neysa Alund, USA TODAY, 29 Nov. 2022 Basically, Shunsuke is hoping to catfish his way out of this hole.—Jessica Kiang, Variety, 28 Feb. 2023 Players are given the choice to either play the game as themselves or catfish the other players with a fake identity.—Quinci Legardye, Marie Claire, 14 Apr. 2021 Lyn remembers hovering in the kitchen as a child, watching her grandmother and mother make roux, a sauce base of flour and fat that's fundamental to so many Louisiana dishes, from jambalaya to catfish coubion to turtle stew.—Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, The Arizona Republic, 4 Mar. 2022 Lathem’s attorneys, by contrast, have told jurors that Warren acted alone, stabbing Cornell in a jealous frenzy after trying to catfish the more prosperous Lathem into a relationship.—Megan Crepeau, chicagotribune.com, 30 Sep. 2021 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'catfish.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
cat entry 1 + fish entry 1; so called from the whiskerlike appearance of the barbels surrounding the fish's mouth; (sense 2) after Catfish (2010), a documentary film about a man who through social networking develops remote relationships with members of a family whose life histories have been fabricated to various degrees
The title of the film, directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, is based on a story told by the husband of the woman responsible for the fabrications. He explains that at one time cod were shipped live in tanks from Alaska to China. The inactive cod would become mushy and tasteless, until someone came upon the idea of placing catfish in the tanks to stimulate them. To the man, his wife has played a role similar to that of the catfish in the tank: "… there are those people who are catfish in life. And they keep you on your toes. They keep you guessing, they keep you thinking, they keep you fresh." As subsequent investigation has uncovered, the catfish tale is much older than the film. It was used for different comparative purposes by the British journalist Henry Nevinson in an essay "The Catfish" published as part of a collection in 1913 (Essays in Rebellion, London, James Nisbet & Co.). The tale itself appears to be a fabrication, as cod were not shipped across oceans in tanks, and catfish, being bottom-feeders, are not predators of cod. For further details see Ben Zimmer, "Catfish: How Manti Te'o's imaginary romance got its name," Boston Globe (online), January 27, 2013; Aisha Harris, "Who coined the term 'catfish'?", Slate (online), January 18, 2013.