noun, plural (especially collectively) sun·fish, (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) sun·fish·es.
  1. the ocean sunfish, Mola mola.
  2. any of various other fishes of the family Molidae.
  3. any of several small, brightly colored, spiny-rayed freshwater fishes of the genus Lepomis, of North America, having a deep, compressed body.

Origin of sunfish

First recorded in 1620–30; sun + fish Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for sunfish

Historical Examples of sunfish

  • I used to love to watch the sunfish leap, they are so round and glistening and awkward.

  • I saw him look then as he used to in our sunfish, bent-pin days.

  • He talked about swordfish as carelessly as he used to talk about sunfish.

  • These ponds were full of sunfish, and other fish, some of which we caught.

  • In half an hour they caught a beautiful string of sunfish and chubs.

    Canoe Boys and Campfires

    William Murray Graydon

British Dictionary definitions for sunfish


noun plural -fish or -fishes
  1. any large plectognath fish of the family Molidae, of temperate and tropical seas, esp Mola mola, which has a large rounded compressed body, long pointed dorsal and anal fins, and a fringelike tail fin
  2. any of various small predatory North American freshwater percoid fishes of the family Centrarchidae, typically having a compressed brightly coloured body
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 sunfish

1620s, from sun (n.) + fish (n.). Used of various species, with reference to round shape or brilliant appearance. Short form sunny is attested from 1835.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper