• synonyms


[pahy-luh t-fish]
noun, plural (especially collectively) pi·lot·fish, (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) pi·lot·fish·es.
  1. a small, marine fish, Naucrates ductor, often swimming with sharks.
  2. any of various other fishes having similar habits.
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Origin of pilotfish

First recorded in 1625–35; pilot + fish
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for pilot-fish

Historical Examples

  • He was made to stick to the skipper as though he were of some use—as the pilot-fish, they say, is to the whale.

    End of the Tether

    Joseph Conrad

  • One paper likened him to the pilot-fish, which guides the shark to his prey.

  • I must not forget to tell you something about the pilot-fish.

  • There are other curious things about these pilot-fish that naturalists cannot explain.

  • The Pilot-Fish had long since departed for other scenes, and Sammy wished that he had consented to accompany him.

    How Sammy Went to Coral-Land

    Emily Paret Atwater

Word Origin and History for pilot-fish


1630s, from pilot (n.) + fish (n.). So called because they were thought to lead sharks to prey.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper