[tahr-puh n]

noun, plural tar·pons, (especially collectively) tar·pon.

a large, powerful game fish, Megalops atlantica, inhabiting the warmer waters of the Atlantic Ocean, having a compressed body and large, silvery scales.

Origin of tarpon

1675–85; earlier tarpum, trapham, terbum, of uncertain origin; compare Dutch tarpoen; words in various Indian languages of Central America (Miskito tapam, Sumo tahpam, Rama tā́pum, Paya ta’pam) probably ultimately < English
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tarpon

Contemporary Examples of tarpon

Historical Examples of tarpon

  • My empire was not won; my first tarpon was as if he had never been.

  • They looked like barracuda to me, only they were almost as silvery as a tarpon.

  • The rolling of the tarpon diminished, and finally ceased as noon advanced.

  • All at once the tarpon began to show, to splash, to play, to roll.

  • Obviously, then, this becomes true of tarpon and sailfish and small tuna.

British Dictionary definitions for tarpon


noun plural -pons or -pon

a large silvery clupeoid game fish, Tarpon atlanticus, of warm Atlantic waters, having a compressed body covered with large scales: family Elopidae
Australian another name for ox-eye herring
any similar related fish

Word Origin for tarpon

C17: perhaps from Dutch tarpoen, of unknown origin
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 tarpon

large fish (Megalops atlanticus) of the herring family, 1680s, probably from a Native American word. Also called jew-fish.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper