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 During the breeding season, male stickleback fish become intensively territorial and take on a bright red coloration on their underside that attracts females. Lee Alan Dugatkin, Scientific American, 15 Apr. 2022 As of this year, ecologists have reintroduced chorus frogs, three-spine stickleback fish, the California floater mussel and the San Francisco forktail damselfy to the lake. Jessica Flores, San Francisco Chronicle, 29 Apr. 2021 The stickleback surge is triggering other ecosystem impacts. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, 27 Aug. 2020 Dancing Fish Three-spine sticklebacks have a strange mating ritual. Quanta Magazine, 1 Dec. 2015 First, male sticklebacks build a nest and perform a dance to attract a mate. Quanta Magazine, 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, 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, 5 Feb. 2019 One poor fellow is turned into an involuntary stickleback. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 29 May 2017 See More

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.

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

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Cite this Entry

“Stickleback.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jun. 2022.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on stickleback Encyclopedia article about stickleback


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