pi·​ra·​nha pə-ˈrä-nə How to pronounce piranha (audio)
-ˈran- How to pronounce piranha (audio)
plural piranhas or 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 Once built, the piranha plant stands over nine inches, and the head, stalk, mouth, and leaves can all be posed by the builder. Alida Nugent, Peoplemag, 10 Apr. 2024 Kyle Orland / Ars Technica *Mario flagpole music* Kyle Orland / Ars Technica Are all piranha plants made of caprese salad? Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, 17 Feb. 2023 Game Watch out, Mario and Luigi, the piranha plant is out to get you! Maya Polton, Parents, 24 Mar. 2024 The meandering rivers have strong currents and teem with predators, including piranhas and anacondas. Longreads, 1 Feb. 2024 Touching one of these seeds can lead to anything from an impromptu musical performance by singing-and-dancing piranha plants to a ride on a herd of stampeding beasts to a short pop quiz about your gameplay stats, and practically everything in between. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, 27 Dec. 2023 Other available badges let Mario jump higher, grab distant walls with a piranha plant grappling hook, or climb up walls with a useful vertical jump. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, 18 Oct. 2023 The fish, which closely resembles a piranha and is native to South America, has teeth that look like those of a human. Brenton Blanchet, Peoplemag, 31 Aug. 2023 This monstrous fish is a tambaqui, a close relative of the piranha. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 22 Mar. 2011

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'piranha.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1861, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of piranha was in 1861

Dictionary Entries Near piranha

Cite this Entry

“Piranha.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/piranha. Accessed 13 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


pi·​ra·​nha pə-ˈran-yə How to pronounce piranha (audio) -ˈrän-(y)ə How to pronounce piranha (audio)
: any of various usually small flesh-eating South American freshwater fishes that have very sharp teeth, often occur in groups, and include some that may attack human beings and animals in the water

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