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

Did you know?

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 In 2019, the bottom-trawl fleet’s incidental take, or bycatch, of halibut tallied nearly 3.1 million pounds as vessels used huge nets to scoop up 635.4 million pounds of yellowfin sole and other flatfish. Hal Bernton, Anchorage Daily News, 14 Dec. 2021 Fishing continued for cod, flatfish, pollock and more in the Bering Sea. Anchorage Daily News, 9 Aug. 2021 The largest decreases in value from 2019 included a 67% drop for herring, a 61% reduction in salmon, a 37% drop in halibut revenues, down 30% for cod, and a 17% decrease in the value of flatfish. Anchorage Daily News, 19 Jan. 2021 Local flatfish, such as sole, sand dabs and flounder, tend to be lean and are more difficult. SFChronicle.com, 27 Sep. 2020 Fisheries also are still underway for Alaska pollock, flatfish, scallops and much more in both regions, along with a food and bait herring fishery near Dutch Harbor. Anchorage Daily News, 18 Aug. 2020 The world record is the 469-pound flatfish caught by Jack Tragis of Fairbanks in 1996 near Dutch Harbor. Beth Bragg, Anchorage Daily News, 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, 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, 15 Nov. 2019 See More

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.

First Known Use of flatfish

1710, in the meaning defined above

Learn More About flatfish

Time Traveler for flatfish

Time Traveler

The first known use of flatfish was in 1710

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near flatfish

flat file



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for flatfish

Cite this Entry

“Flatfish.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flatfish. Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for flatfish


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

More from Merriam-Webster on flatfish

Nglish: Translation of flatfish for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!