• synonyms


noun, plural (especially collectively) star·fish, (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) star·fish·es.
  1. any echinoderm of the class Asteroidea, having the body radially arranged, usually in the form of a star, with five or more rays or arms radiating from a central disk; asteroid.
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Origin of starfish

First recorded in 1530–40; star + fish
Also called sea star.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for starfish

Historical Examples

  • They were green and blue and red, and they had spiny rays like starfish on which they danced.

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service

  • "And hear the starfish calling to his mate," I extemporised.

  • This stage reached, the end of the first chapter in the life of the starfish is closed.

  • Within this body, as in the starfish, a new body is gradually formed.

  • This inlet, Starfish Cove as the boys call it, is on the property.

British Dictionary definitions for starfish


noun plural -fish or -fishes
  1. any echinoderm of the class Asteroidea, such as Asterias rubens, typically having a flattened body covered with a flexible test and five arms radiating from a central disc
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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 starfish


1530s, from star (n.) + fish (n.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

starfish in Science


  1. Any of various marine echinoderms of the class Asteroidea, having a star-shaped body usually with five arms. The arms have rows of little suckers on the undersides, called tube feet, with which the animal moves around and grasps prey. Many species extrude their stomach onto prey and digest it externally. Starfish can grow new arms if any are lost, and in one species, a whole individual can be regenerated from a single piece of arm. Starfish are related to sea urchins and sea cucumbers.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.