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 The folklore about the scary, razor-toothed piranha doesn’t accurately describe a pacu. Dallas News, 15 Sep. 2021 Rice is believed to be the first to develop fly fishing in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, including for many fierce species with piranha-like teeth that Rice taught locals how to catch. Tom Stienstra, San Francisco Chronicle, 10 Sep. 2021 Tourists who make it to the remote region flock to the lake in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the rare pink dolphin or trying their hand at piranha fishing. Lucy Sherriff, CNN, 13 Aug. 2021 The piranha kept bumping, with audible thuds, into the glass walls of its prison. John Horgan, Scientific American, 24 July 2021 The actors and extras in Texas basically frolicked, and then thrashed around, in piranha-free water. Jim Kiest, San Antonio Express-News, 15 Apr. 2021 Encourage your little one’s love of marine life even further with online real-time events including piranha feedings, Marine Biologist Q & A’s and quirky experiments. Sandra Macgregor, Forbes, 8 Apr. 2021 Like quicksand pits or cobras poised to strike, piranha attacks are one of those exotic dangers that are much more familiar from the movies than real life. Jim Kiest, San Antonio Express-News, 15 Apr. 2021 In fact, all the underwater scenes, which employed mechanical fish, puppets and live piranha, were shot in Los Angeles, according to a report in The San Antonio Light. Jim Kiest, San Antonio Express-News, 15 Apr. 2021

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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The first known use of piranha was in 1861

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Cite this Entry

“Piranha.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/piranha. Accessed 4 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for piranha



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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