stick·​le·​back | \ ˈsti-kəl-ˌbak How to pronounce stickleback (audio) \
plural sticklebacks also stickleback

Definition of stickleback

: any of a family (Gasterosteidae) of small scaleless bony fishes having two or more free spines in front of the dorsal fin and including marine, anadromous, and freshwater forms

Examples of stickleback in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The stickleback surge is triggering other ecosystem impacts. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "A tiny fish takes on its predators—and wins, transforming the Baltic coast," 27 Aug. 2020 Dancing Fish Three-spine sticklebacks have a strange mating ritual. Quanta Magazine, "The Incredible Shrinking Sex Chromosome," 1 Dec. 2015 First, male sticklebacks build a nest and perform a dance to attract a mate. Quanta Magazine, "The Incredible Shrinking Sex Chromosome," 1 Dec. 2015 So far, Candolin notes, the sloppier mating caused by murky waters isn't hurting stickleback populations in the Baltic. Elizabeth Preston, Science | AAAS, "A growing sensory smog threatens the ability of fish to communicate, navigate, and survive," 20 June 2019 One possible explanation was that the marine sticklebacks had already carried a rare mutation for the loss of the pelvic fin, one that arose in their ancestors. Quanta Magazine, "Fragile DNA Enables New Adaptations to Evolve Quickly," 5 Feb. 2019 One poor fellow is turned into an involuntary stickleback. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "“Alien: Covenant” and the Too-Many-Monsters Problem," 29 May 2017

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

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for stickleback

Middle English stykylbak, from Old English sticel goad + Middle English bak back; akin to Old English stician to stick

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Time Traveler for stickleback

Time Traveler

The first known use of stickleback was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Stickleback.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for stickleback


stick·​le·​back | \ ˈsti-kəl-ˌbak How to pronounce stickleback (audio) \

Kids Definition of stickleback

: a small scaleless fish with sharp spines on its back

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