rem·​o·​ra ri-ˈmȯr-ə How to pronounce remora (audio)
 also  ˈre-mə-rə
: any of a family (Echeneidae) of marine bony fishes that have the anterior dorsal fin modified into a suctorial disk on the head by means of which they adhere especially to other fishes

Illustration of remora

Illustration of remora
  • remora 1

Did you know?

Also known as shark suckers or suckerfish, remoras are long, thin, dark fishes that are distributed throughout the world in warm seas. Ancient sailors believed remoras had the power to slow or even stop a ship by attaching themselves to it; the name remora, which means "delay" in Latin, arose from this ancient superstition. The poor remora’s reputation isn’t much better today. Even though remoras don’t harm their hosts, they are popularly thought of as unwanted guests who get a free ride and a free meal by way of the efforts of others. It is therefore common to see remora used metaphorically in such contexts as "hungry paparazzi who attach themselves like remoras to celebrities."

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web On its back, the turtle carried a neon remora, or suckerfish. Hannah Selinger, Travel + Leisure, 20 Feb. 2023 Lindsey Graham, the Senate’s remora, has become considerably craven now that he’s suckered himself onto Donald Trump’s body. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 26 Sep. 2022 The Jones family has mentioned finding a remora in the boat, suggesting this ray was trying to dislodge an unwanted passenger. al, 18 July 2022 Still, no one attached themselves, remora-like, to the mogul with more gusto than Zucker. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 2 Feb. 2022 Researchers Brooke Flammang, Jeremy Goldbogen and their teams found that the remora’s choice location is key to hanging on. Rachael Lallensack, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Dec. 2020 The second group basically latches on to the first like remora on a shark. Gene Weingarten, Washington Post, 26 Oct. 2020 Alpina remains independent from BMW, but the relationship is sort of like the one between a remora and a shark. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, 10 July 2020 This year, scientists tackled the sticky issue of creating strong underwater adhesives by mimicking the way remoras (also known as suckerfish) suction onto sharks. Danielle Hall, Smithsonian, 16 Dec. 2017 See More

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

Word History


Late Latin, from Latin, delay, from remorari to delay, from re- + morari to delay — more at moratorium

First Known Use

1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of remora was in 1567


Dictionary Entries Near remora

Cite this Entry

“Remora.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


rem·​o·​ra ˈrem-ə-rə How to pronounce remora (audio)
: any of various marine fishes that have a suction disk on the top of the head by means of which they cling especially to other fishes

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