• synonyms


noun, plural (especially collectively) cat·fish, (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) cat·fish·es.
  1. any of the numerous fishes of the order or suborder Nematognathi (or Siluroidei), characterized by barbels around the mouth and the absence of scales.
  2. a wolffish of the genus Anarhichas.
  3. any of various other fishes having a fancied resemblance to a cat.
  4. Slang. a person who assumes a false identity or personality on the Internet, especially on social media websites, as to deceive, manipulate, or swindle.
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verb (used with or without object)
  1. 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.
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Origin of catfish

First recorded in 1605–15; cat + fish
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for catfish


noun plural -fish or -fishes
  1. 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
  2. another name for wolffish
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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

Word Origin and History for catfish


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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper