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

Go on a night excursion by foot or canoe, fish for piranha, and stay in one of eleven tree houses, built into Ironwood trees dozens of feet off the forest floor. Austin Merrill, WSJ, "The Amazon: The Heart of the World," 3 Dec. 2018 First up: Piranha, a charmingly bad film about killer piranhas. Lindsey Lanquist, SELF, "I Tracked My Heart Rate While Watching the 10 'Scariest' Movies on Netflix," 14 June 2018 Check out the tropical birds and piranha in the waiting area. Anne Harnagel, latimes.com, "Searching for Billy the Kid and UFOs in southeastern New Mexico," 18 May 2018 Her own eye-popping setpieces included a giant man-eating piranha and a flaming piano. 23. Piet Levy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Revisit 30 unforgettable Bradley Center concerts before the Milwaukee arena's demolition," 24 Apr. 2018 Even the piranha they fish for can kill them with their razor-sharp teeth. Kimberly Nordyke, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Gold Rush: Parker's Trail' Gets Second Season at Discovery Channel (Exclusive)," 13 Feb. 2018 Twelve pounds of border collie and short-haired terrier with a soft belly and tiny little piranha teeth. Marc Lester, adn.com, "How a service dog opened an Alaska veteran's world," 16 May 2015 Counter Democrats and consumer advocates: Cordray represents exactly what's needed to counter financial piranhas who have an unfair advantage over ordinary Americans. Stephen Koff, cleveland.com, "If Richard Cordray resigns to run for Ohio governor, payday lending spat could erupt," 8 Aug. 2017 So there are going to be a fish balloon, a crab, a piranha and a shark that will be out there. Annie Alleman, Naperville Sun, "Keep your eyes to the skies during Lisle fest," 21 June 2017

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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Pirani gauge



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The first known use of piranha was in 1861

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on piranha

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with piranha

Spanish Central: Translation of piranha

Nglish: Translation of piranha for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about piranha

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