pi·​ra·​ru·​cu pi-ˌrär-ə-ˈkü How to pronounce pirarucu (audio)
: a large-scaled, predatory, freshwater fish (Arapaima gigas of the family Arapaimidae) of the rivers of northern South America that is an esteemed food fish, has a toothed tongue, and may reach a length of nearly 10 feet (3 meters) and a weight of over 300 pounds (136 kilograms) but is typically smaller

Note: The pirarucu has been placed especially formerly in the same family (Osteoglossidae) as the arowanas.

Examples of pirarucu in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The pirarucu, which can weigh up to 200 kilograms (441 pounds), had become threatened with extinction in the western part of the Brazilian Amazon, as fishing vessels illegally used large nets to sweep lakes. Erika Page, The Christian Science Monitor, 18 Jan. 2023 By law, only 30% of the pirarucu in a certain area can be fished the following year. Fabiano Maisonnave and Jorge Saenz, The Christian Science Monitor, 3 Nov. 2022 Other criminals traffic everything from gold to the prized pirarucu fish, police said. Luciana Magalhaes, WSJ, 18 June 2022 The reason is that pirarucu share their habitat with piranha. The Economist, 17 Oct. 2019 Whether insights from pirarucu scales will percolate into materials science remains to be seen. The Economist, 17 Oct. 2019 The Brazilian sustainable luxury label Osklen (Katie Holmes is a fan) has a new superchic pirarucu weekend bag ($1,997) that has the look of an exotic but is in fact made from fish skins. Alison S. Cohn, New York Times, 28 June 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pirarucu.' 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 pirawrukú, from pirá fish + urukú annatto

First Known Use

1840, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of pirarucu was in 1840

Dictionary Entries Near pirarucu

Cite this Entry

“Pirarucu.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pirarucu. Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

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