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 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 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, 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, 15 Oct. 2019

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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Cite this Entry

“Flatfish.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flatfish. Accessed 15 Jun. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on flatfish

Nglish: Translation of flatfish for Spanish Speakers


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