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

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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 This was where her father, Chief Turkey Tayac of the Piscataway Indian Nation, taught Yates and her five siblings how to skin eels,find worms in low marshes anduse catfish bones as fishing hooks. Rebecca Tan, Washington Post, "D.C. bill would honor 17th-century treaty by letting Native Americans fish for free," 27 Nov. 2019 Along the perimeter were dozens of vendors selling everything from whole lobsters to catfish balls with mango sauce. Alyson Krueger, New York Times, "New York’s Best Outdoor Food Fair? We May Have Found It," 22 Nov. 2019 There was nothing small about the duo of filets presented in the fried catfish dinner ($14.15). Lindsey Mcclave, The Courier-Journal, "Fried pork chops, top-notch greens shine at this Southern bistro in downtown Louisville," 20 Nov. 2019 Texas fishers can start casting their lines after more than 120,00 catfish were recently stocked at 19 Texas lakes, including four in Houston, as part of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's (TPWD) Neighborhood Fishin' program. Rebecca Hennes, Houston Chronicle, "TPWD restocks Houston and Texas neighborhood lakes with thousands of catfish," 20 Nov. 2019 Also on the Friday menu: fried perch, catfish po’ boys and jerk-chicken egg rolls. Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Big Daddy's BBQ and Soul Food is popping up at 29th and Villard," 15 Nov. 2019 Most menu items cost under or around $10 — an 8-wing dinner costs $8, while a large catfish dinner sets customers back $10. Lauren Saria, azcentral, "Iconic Chicago restaurant Harold's Chicken opens in Phoenix. Here's why it's a big deal," 22 Oct. 2019 Courtesy of Chauhan Ale & Masala House Dishes like catfish Goan curry, fried green tomato pakoras, and even a reimagined Daal Makhani made with local lentils, beans, collards, and Benton’s ham that sparked controversy. Fortune, "These Award-Winning Chefs Are Expressing Their Indian Heritage With Southern Food," 15 Sep. 2019 Add the catfish fillets, toss to coat evenly in the marinade, then cover with plastic wrap. Los Angeles Times, "Fried Jerked Catfish from Post & Beam," 9 Sep. 2019

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.

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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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Time Traveler for catfish

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The first known use of catfish was in 1612

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Statistics for catfish

Last Updated

6 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Catfish.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 12 December 2019.

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More Definitions for catfish


How to pronounce catfish (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of catfish

: a type of fish that has a large head and long thin parts that look like a cat's whiskers around its mouth


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

Kids Definition of catfish

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on catfish

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with catfish

Spanish Central: Translation of catfish

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

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