noun, plural (especially collectively) mar·lin, (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) mar·lins.

any large, saltwater game fish of the genera Makaira and Tetrapterus, having the upper jaw elongated into a spearlike structure.

Origin of marlin

1915–20, Americanism; short for marlinespike







a male given name.


or mar·lin, mar·ling


noun Nautical.

small stuff of two-fiber strands, sometimes tarred, laid up left-handed.

Origin of marline

First recorded in 1375–1425, marline is from the late Middle English word merlin. See marl2, line1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for marlin

Contemporary Examples of marlin

Historical Examples of marlin

  • Very angry he was, and he reminded me of a Marlin swordfish.

  • No boatman fears a Marlin as he does the true broadbill swordfish.

  • Marlin are not food fish, and they are thrown to the sharks.

  • But there are no more fish there, except Marlin swordfish in August and September.

  • All of which accounts for his quick conquering of a Marlin swordfish.

British Dictionary definitions for marlin


noun plural -lin or -lins

any of several large scombroid food and game fishes of the genera Makaira, Istiompax, and Tetrapturus, of warm and tropical seas, having a very long upper jaw: family IstiophoridaeAlso called: spearfish

Word Origin for marlin

C20: from marlinespike; with allusion to the shape of the beak


marlin less commonly marling (ˈmɑːlɪŋ)


nautical a light rope, usually tarred, made of two strands laid left-handed

Word Origin for marline

C15: from Dutch marlijn, from marren to tie + lijn line
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 marlin

large marine game-fish, 1917, shortening of marlinspike fish (1907), from marlinspike, name of a pointed iron tool used by sailors (see marlinspike). The fish was so called from the shape of its elongated upper jaw.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper