What does catfish mean?


Aside from being a delicious kind of river fish, a catfish is a slang term for someone who seduces a person with a false identity online.

Examples of catfish


Examples of catfish
People who see me at school probably think im catfish cause i come with no makeup & hair in a pony while i wear full makeup in my selfies 🤔🖕🏽
@LamiaDagher, December, 2015
Personally Andy has never had need of dating apps like Bumble and Tinder because he met his wife of 14 years the old fashioned way - down the pub...But his background in criminal intelligence, he is qualified to be the perfect catfish hunter and can work with as little as a profile picture, address and contact details.
Becky Pemberton, The Sun, August, 2018

Where does catfish come from?

The 2010 documentary Catfish, directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman about a young man getting romantically duped by a woman with a fake Facebook profile, takes its name from a tale long told about catfish—that fishers would ship catfish with codfish because they would keep the latter alert, active, and better tasting.

That fishy story originates as a kind of Christian parable recorded by the early 1900s, but the documentary popularized catfish as a metaphor for a person who seduces another with a fake profile, pretending to be someone more attractive, successful, interesting, or sympathetic—keeping the seduced “on their toes” like codfish swimming with catfish. This is what happened to the subject of Catfish, Nev Schulman, who discovers that the woman he developed an online relationship had completely made up her profile.

The documentary spawned MTV’s reality show Catfish: The TV Show in November 2012, co-hosted by Nev Schulman. It follows people in online relationships, seeking to find out if they are getting catfished.

Catfish rose to prominence in 2013 when University of Notre Dame star football player Manti Te’o found himself catfished by a man pretending to be his late girlfriend. The term further grew thanks to the spread of social media and online dating in the 2010s.

There are a number of motivations for the practice of catfishing, including financial gain, cyberbullying, identity exploration, and crime-fighting.

Who uses catfish?

Catfish can be a noun or a verb, with the impersonator sometimes called the catfish.

While early uses of the term centered on people creating false identities through fake accounts, the term has broadened to anyone who misleadingly present themselves online as better in some way than they really are in real life, often their looks or success. This—milder if widespread practice, as you’ll well know if you’ve ever been on Tinder or anywhere on social media for that matter—is sometimes called kittenfishing. Catfish. Kittenfish. Get it?

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