pi·​ra·​nha | \ pə-ˈrä-nə How to pronounce piranha (audio) ; -ˈrän-yə, -ˈran- How to pronounce piranha (audio) \
plural piranhas or piranha

Definition of piranha

: any of various usually small South American characin fishes (genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus) that have very sharp teeth, often appear in schools, and include some that may attack and inflict dangerous wounds upon humans and large animals

called also caribe

Examples of piranha in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But the top few players in a game tend to play on at length, until all but one falls perhaps by dropping into lava or a piranha plant. Shannon Liao, CNN, "Nintendo's latest Super Mario Bros. game pits you against 34 other Marios," 1 Oct. 2020 Oh, and there are live piranha feedings at 2 p.m. every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Emily Matchar, Smithsonian Magazine, "This Week’s Best Livestream Learning Opportunities," 23 Mar. 2020 Despite its legendary sharp teeth, black piranha is a meaty fish that’s usually caught by hand line and prepared by carefully butterflying and roasting over a fire. National Geographic, "Gordon Ramsay Voyages Deep Into the Rainforest of Guyana," 20 May 2020 Bradford Dillman and Maggie McKeown are the leads while Kevin McCarthy is the government scientist who created a strain of deadly piranha. Clark Collis, EW.com, "The 10 best aquatic horror movies of all-time," 9 Apr. 2020 Researchers credit millions of years of evolution in close proximity to deadly fish like the piranha. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "What the U.S. Air Force Can Learn From This Piranha-Proof Fish," 18 Oct. 2019 The reason is that pirarucu share their habitat with piranha. The Economist, "To see off piranha this fish has strong armour," 17 Oct. 2019 This is more than enough to resist the bite of a piranha. The Economist, "To see off piranha this fish has strong armour," 17 Oct. 2019 But piranhas aren't the only fish that experience this. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Piranha swap out their old teeth with new set waiting in a 'crypt'," 11 Oct. 2019

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

1861, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for piranha

Portuguese, from Tupi pirã́ja, pirã́nʸa, from pirá fish + ã́ja, ã́nʸa tooth

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Time Traveler for piranha

Time Traveler

The first known use of piranha was in 1861

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Last Updated

16 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Piranha.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/piranha. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for piranha


How to pronounce piranha (audio) How to pronounce piranha (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of piranha

: a small South American fish that has sharp teeth and that eats the flesh of animals


pi·​ra·​nha | \ pə-ˈrä-nə How to pronounce piranha (audio) \

Kids Definition of piranha

: a small South American freshwater fish that has very sharp teeth, often occurs in groups, and may attack human beings and animals in the water

More from Merriam-Webster on piranha

Nglish: Translation of piranha for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about piranha

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