flat·​fish | \ ˈflat-ˌfish How to pronounce flatfish (audio) \

Definition of flatfish

: any of an order (Pleuronectiformes) of marine typically bottom-dwelling bony fishes (such as the halibuts, flounders, turbots, and soles) that as adults swim on one side of the laterally compressed body and have both eyes on the upper side

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There are about 600 species of flatfish, which have oval, flattened, bony bodies and are found from tropical to cold waters. Flounder and turbot are two examples. Most flatfish species live at moderate depths along the continental shelf, but some enter or live permanently in freshwater. Flatfishes are carnivorous bottom-dwellers that habitually rest on one side. Both eyes are on one side of the head. The side of the fish with eyes (uppermost as it lies on the bottom) is pigmented, but the lower side is normally white. Some flatfish change color to blend with their surroundings. Species vary from 4 in (10 cm) to 7 ft (2 m) long, and some (for example, the Atlantic halibut) may weigh as much as 720 lb (325 kg).

Examples of flatfish in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The world record is the 469-pound flatfish caught by Jack Tragis of Fairbanks in 1996 near Dutch Harbor. Beth Bragg, Anchorage Daily News, "‘Now I know why they shoot them’: Texas fisherman lands 8-foot halibut near Kodiak Island," 25 Aug. 2019 The closure during the heart of the fall flounder run will have a negative economic impact on guides who depend on the flatfish for income. Matt Wyatt, ExpressNews.com, "Texas flounder regulations approved; season closure delayed a year," 23 May 2020 Live mullet or killifish are by far the best bait but a jig tipped with shrimp and worked slowly along bottom also catches some of these tasty flatfish. Frank Sargeant, al, "Friday Fishing Report: Big catfish hooked on Tennessee Valley lakes," 15 Nov. 2019 The derby debuted in 1986 with a $13,700 cash prize for winner Tony DeMichelle, who caught a 312-pound flatfish. Matt Tunseth, Anchorage Daily News, "Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby to end this year after a 34-year run," 11 Sep. 2019 About 500 million pounds of over 10 different kinds of flatfish are caught each year in Alaska valued at $100 million. Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage talk will dive into ocean acidification’s impact on Alaska marine life," 15 Oct. 2019 The annual Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby is ongoing, with Wyoming angler Butch Knutson still leading the $10,000 derby with a 189.6-pound flatfish. Matt Tunseth, Anchorage Daily News, "As fall nears, fishing focus turns to cohos," 9 Aug. 2019 Respect for classic California comes in a crab Louie salad arranged over half an avocado and, most wonderfully, a plate of delicate, fileted sand dabs — a Pacific flatfish that should be on more menus — nudged with lemon juice and capers. Bill Addison, latimes.com, "Sinatra hangout Dear John’s is going out in style," 13 June 2019 Look out for other flatfish such as Dover sole or flounder. Rochelle Bilow, Bon Appetit, "75 Summer Recipes Everyone Should Know How to Cook," 4 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'flatfish.' 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 flatfish

1710, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for flatfish

Time Traveler

The first known use of flatfish was in 1710

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Statistics for flatfish

Last Updated

12 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Flatfish.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flatfish. Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for flatfish


How to pronounce flatfish (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of flatfish

: a fish (such as a halibut, flounder, or sole) that has a flat body and swims on its side with both eyes on the upper side


flat·​fish | \ ˈflat-ˌfish How to pronounce flatfish (audio) \

Kids Definition of flatfish

: a fish (as the flounder) that has a flat body and swims on its side with both eyes on the upper side

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More from Merriam-Webster on flatfish

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with flatfish

Spanish Central: Translation of flatfish

Nglish: Translation of flatfish for Spanish Speakers

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