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 Once swallowed, the capsule dissolves, allowing the arms to spring back into rigid starfish shape. Wired, "A Once-a-Month Birth Control Pill Is Coming—Here's How It Works," 4 Dec. 2019 The most intoxicating images are when the stage is filled not with projected starfish shapes or convincing news footage of impending natural disasters, but when it is loaded with living, breathing actors freaking out en masse. Christopher Arnott,, "Review: ‘SpongeBob Musical’ is hip, squishy fun at The Bushnell," 2 Oct. 2019 An accurate survey will help to manage coral-hungry Crown-of-thorns starfish, as well inform future restoration project sites. Jessica Wynne Lockhart, Smithsonian, "Massive Citizen Science Effort Seeks to Survey the Entire Great Barrier Reef," 17 Oct. 2019 Trapped inside the stomach, the silicone starfish slowly seeps the medication through its small pores, allowing the hormone to pass through the gut and into the bloodstream to do its work. Wired, "A Once-a-Month Birth Control Pill Is Coming—Here's How It Works," 4 Dec. 2019 Australia has launched an effort to help protect the reef, which includes a plan to combat a coral-eating starfish and an initiative to curb runoff. Tara Law, Time, "It’s Not Just Flooding in Venice. Here’s How Climate Change Threatens World Heritage Sites Everywhere," 22 Nov. 2019 There were a few places where coral cover was down to just 5%, thanks to cyclones (also known as hurricanes) and invasions of crown-of-thorns starfish. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "As coral reefs suffer around the world, reefs in French Polynesia are thriving," 16 Dec. 2019 To picture how this works, Traverso suggests imagining a six-armed starfish that has folded itself up into a cylinder. Wired, "A Once-a-Month Birth Control Pill Is Coming—Here's How It Works," 4 Dec. 2019 The purple sea urchin is native to the region, but a perfect storm of warming waters and a disease that killed off starfish, its predator, led to an explosion in its population. NBC News, "Northern California's undersea kelp forests decimated by purple sea urchins," 30 Nov. 2019

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

17 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Starfish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for starfish


How to pronounce starfish (audio)

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with starfish

Spanish Central: Translation of starfish

Nglish: Translation of starfish for Spanish Speakers

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

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