star·​fish | \ ˈstär-ˌfish How to pronounce starfish (audio) \

Definition of starfish

: any of a class (Asteroidea) of echinoderms that have a body of usually five arms radially arranged about a central disk and feed largely on mollusks (such as oysters)

called also sea star

Examples of starfish in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web When human activity removes the starfish’s natural predators, their population can boom. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "What Eats the Crown-of-Thorns Starfish? The Evidence Is in the Poop," 10 June 2020 Porcelain crabs scuttle by tiny starfish clinging to the blades. Shane Gross; Text By Katherine Harmon Courage, Smithsonian Magazine, "Prairies of the Sea," 18 Nov. 2020 Meanwhile mounds of lifeless sea urchins and starfish were washing up on Kamchatka’s eastern shores. National Geographic, "Massive marine die-off in Russia could threaten endangered sea otters, other vulnerable species," 16 Oct. 2020 Sea urchins, starfish, and red octopuses have washed up, and divers estimate that up to 95 percent of bottom feeders in some areas have died. Frans Lanting, National Geographic, "Why is Iran jailing these researchers?," 22 Oct. 2020 Magnets mounted on the outer triangles — the arms of the starfish — should attract and hold onto some of the crushed rocks. Kenneth Chang, New York Times, "Jeff Bezos’ Company Is Carrying Scientific Cargo to Space. It’s Not Amazon.," 13 Oct. 2020 Images of dead seals, octopi, starfish and urchins on the Khalaktyrsky Beach in the Avacha Bay have been shared on social media for several days. NBC News, "Investigators probe 'possible ecological catastrophe' in Russia's Kamchatka region," 4 Oct. 2020 The Octonauts have to hold back coral-eating starfish in this special. Carly Mallenbaum, USA TODAY, "Everything coming to Netflix in October: From Adam Sandler's new movie to more 'Schitt's Creek'," 23 Sep. 2020 The Navarre Beach Fire Rescue posted a video to Facebook showing the starfish spread across the beach. Fox News, "Hurricane Sally leaves behind thousands of starfish washed up on Florida beach," 22 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'starfish.' 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 starfish

1538, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for starfish

Time Traveler

The first known use of starfish was in 1538

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Statistics for starfish

Last Updated

28 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Starfish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for starfish



English Language Learners Definition of starfish

: a sea animal that has five arms and that looks like a star


star·​fish | \ ˈstär-ˌfish How to pronounce starfish (audio) \

Kids Definition of starfish

: a sea animal that usually has five arms that spread out from a central disk and feeds mostly on mollusks

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More from Merriam-Webster on starfish

Nglish: Translation of starfish for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of starfish for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about starfish

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