Definition of blenny in English:



  • 1A small spiny-finned marine fish with scaleless skin and a blunt head, typically living in shallow inshore or intertidal waters.

    Family Blenniidae: several genera, in particular Blennius

    • ‘Hiding in a red sponge I found a little blenny which modelled for me like a professional.’
    • ‘Our favourite thing to find was an astonishingly wriggly fish called a blenny.’
    • ‘The reef is teeming with fish, ranging from small blennies hiding in barnacles to shoals of grunts and soldierfish.’
    • ‘As we grew accustomed to the rocks, we realised they were not completely barren, for on their surface could be found clusters of small hard coral which provided shelter for tiny blennies, shrimps and countless other critters.’
    • ‘The Florida Keys are a great favourite among retired periwinkles, for example, and there's a growing colony of expatriate blennies in the warm waters around the Balearic Islands.’
    • ‘I poke around some more and manage to find a small blenny.’
    • ‘Shaped like eel, this small slender fish is another relative of blennies.’
    • ‘There are, however, often flatfish, cheeky blennies and numerous and inquisitive wrasse.’
    • ‘Gobies and blennies combined make up a dominant portion of the small fish inhabiting benthic tropical reefs around the world.’
    • ‘Beneath loosely embedded rocks hide the brittle stars, ribbon worms and slithery, clinging fish called blennies.’
    • ‘The battling blennies seem to have just about exhausted themselves when a shore crab wanders by, carrying the torn-off claw of a colleague that was unlucky enough to be disturbed while soft after moulting its armour.’
    • ‘In the rock pools blennies flicked from sunlight into the shelter of weed and anemone fringes, and hermit crabs went tip-toeing hastily from one dark crevice to the next as my shadow barred the water round them.’
    • ‘On top of a rock, a blenny is transfixed, unsure whether to swim off or remain still against the background that no longer serves as camouflage.’
    • ‘Rainbow wrasse old barnacle shells provide homes for numerous smiling blennies drifting along the reef at Bookends’
    • ‘The eel-like fish, which can reach a length of 2m, is closely related to the blenny.’
    • ‘Not eels at all, the wolf eel are among the largest of a sub-order of small gunnels and blennies.’
    • ‘Here we found gobies, blennies and butterfish hiding among the anemones.’
    • ‘Vertical cracks in the walls are well worth investigating as, in addition to the usual shrimps and blennies, conger eels can be found in the larger cracks.’
    • ‘While blennies are primarily marine fishes, some members of the family occur in estuaries or in fresh water, for example, in lakes in Italy.’
    • ‘Spider crabs stalked the seabed; wrasse, blennies, shannies and rockling darted over the reefs, and pollack wheeled overhead.’
    1. 1.1 Used in names of other small fishes that resemble or are related to the true blennies, e.g. eel blenny.
      • ‘The blennies seem to be halfway between our shanny and tompot blenny; they have no crest on top of their heads but are big and quite colourful.’
      • ‘Seen much less frequently than the tompot and shanny, the Yarrell's blenny is not actually a true blenny, but belongs to a related family.’
      • ‘Checking carefully in nooks and crannies can often reveal tompot blennies and the occasional small scorpionfish.’
      • ‘In the beautiful elkhorn stands we found red-lipped blennies in three-color phases, octopus in the day, candy striped shrimp, lots of macro life, and scorpionfish.’
      • ‘Triplefin blennies, however, as the name suggests, can be distinguished by their three dorsal fins, the first two composed of spines and the third composed of soft rays.’
      • ‘I bobbed and thrashed about on the surface of the Pacific, 20 miles off Ventura, CA like a tompot blenny with a ruptured swim-bladder.’
      • ‘Many, from small topknots and scorpionfish to the ever-smiling tompot blennies, are of no interest to anglers.’
      • ‘That's one of those little fang blennies; they look virtually identical to the cleaner wrasse.’
      • ‘Out of its hole it resembles a tompot blenny in shape, but without the antlers and the smile.’
      • ‘Fish species include tompot and blackface blennies, leopard-spotted gobies and shannies.’
      • ‘In the peacock blenny (Salaria pavo), males provide parental care in nest sites in rock crevices.’
      • ‘One exception has been reported in the triplefin blenny, Axoclinus nigricaudus, in which there was no difference in the relative investment into spermatogenesis between territorial and nonterritorial satellite males.’
      • ‘There are usually also a few pollack, wrasse and bream, and hordes of tompot blennies.’
      • ‘The shanny, occasionally known as the common blenny, lives on the shore and in very shallow water, so it will usually only be seen by divers at the beginning or end of a shore dive.’
      • ‘There are several other species to look out for, including the less-common Yarrell's blenny, the black-faced blenny, the shanny and the butterfish.’
      • ‘Triplefin blennies are also unique among blennies in that they possess ctenoid (rough-edged) scales.’
      • ‘There are the Mediterranean tompot blenny, the bashful yellow-faced or striped blenny, and the tiny Caribbean secretary blenny, giving office staff a bad name.’
      • ‘Then Yarrell's blennies and butterfish revealed themselves, along with long-spined scorpionfish in considerable numbers.’
      • ‘Never mind, there are plenty of cabins and corridors for me to explore, while teasing the ever-smiling tompot blennies and looking for conger eels.’
      • ‘Forward of the rails is a large single bollard, or capstan, and various small deck fittings and valve openings that are home to tompot blennies.’


Mid 18th century: from Latin blennius, from Greek blennos ‘mucus’ (because of its mucous coating).