cat·​fish | \ ˈkat-ˌfish How to pronounce catfish (audio) \

Definition of catfish

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : any of an order (Siluriformes) of chiefly freshwater stout-bodied scaleless bony fishes having long tactile barbels
2 : a person who sets up a false personal profile on a social networking site for fraudulent or deceptive purposes


catfished; catfishing; catfishes

Definition of catfish (Entry 2 of 2)

1 intransitive : to fish for catfish … Bob was catfishing off a floating Ohio River dock near Eight Mile Road east of Cincinnati one early summer evening …Kentucky Happy Hunting Ground
2 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 — see also catfish entry 1 sense 2

Illustration of catfish

Illustration of catfish


catfish 1

In the meaning defined above

Other Words from catfish


catfishing noun
… 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: Noun The fried catfish, mac and cheese and fried okra are all tops. Matt Wake |, al, 24 Feb. 2022 Scientists suspect the armored catfish may have caused population reductions in a native species called Devils River minnows that live in San Felipe Creek in Texas, per a Texas Parks and Wildlife post. Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, 31 Jan. 2022 Inland Fisheries San Marcos/Austin District weighed and measured the catfish and announced the catch as a new waterbody record. Pete Thomas, USA TODAY, 21 Oct. 2021 Kai, confused at finding his dad's co-worker at the catfish's address, accepts her invitation into the house. Quinci Legardye, Marie Claire, 1 Sep. 2021 Brine the catfish in the mixture for at least 1 hour or up to overnight. Kelsey Barnard Clark, Robb Report, 23 Aug. 2021 Mississippi has a new state record catfish, weighing 131 pounds. Zoe Christen Jones, CBS News, 12 Apr. 2022 Blue catfish can live up to 25 years, which means the record fish may have been born the same year the previous record was set. al, 12 Apr. 2022 The Cleveland charter guide runs walleye and catfish charters from Cleveland to the Lake Erie Islands throughout the year. cleveland, 10 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'catfish.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of catfish


1612, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1871, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of catfish was in 1612

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Last Updated

6 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Catfish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for catfish


cat·​fish | \ ˈkat-ˌfish How to pronounce catfish (audio) \

Kids Definition of catfish

: a fish with a large head and feelers about the mouth

More from Merriam-Webster on catfish

Nglish: Translation of catfish for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about catfish


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