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[kat-fish] /ˈkætˌfɪʃ/
noun, plural (especially collectively) catfish (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) catfishes.
any of the numerous fishes of the order or suborder Nematognathi (or Siluroidei), characterized by barbels around the mouth and the absence of scales.
a wolffish of the genus Anarhichas.
any of various other fishes having a fancied resemblance to a cat.
Slang. a person who assumes a false identity or personality on the Internet, especially on social media websites, as to deceive, manipulate, or swindle.
verb (used with or without object)
Slang. to deceive, swindle, etc., by assuming a false identity or personality online:
He fell in love with her online before he realized he'd been catfished.
Origin of catfish
First recorded in 1605-15; cat + fish Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for catfish
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This jishin-uwo is a great creature something like a catfish.

    Japanese Fairy World William Elliot Griffis
  • And the Germans, the vainest race in Europe, rose like catfish to the bait.

    Old Fogy James Huneker
  • Brook trout, perch, catfish and other well-known fish are good fried.

  • The saddest fish that swims the briny ocean,The catfish I bewail.

  • The people were divided into two factions, the 'codfish' and the 'catfish.'

    History of Linn County Iowa Luther A. Brewer
British Dictionary definitions for catfish


noun (pl) -fish, -fishes
any of numerous mainly freshwater teleost fishes having whisker-like barbels around the mouth, esp the silurids of Europe and Asia and the horned pouts of North America
another name for wolffish
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for catfish

1610s, from cat (n.) + fish (n.). Probably so called for its "whiskers."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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