One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A minute, slender catfish of the Amazon region, feeding by sucking blood from other fishes and sometimes entering the body orifices of mammals. It is notorious for its occasional habit of entering the urethra of human bathers.
Vandellia cirrhosa, family Trichomycteridae
- ‘The most fearsome reputation belongs not to one of the giant catfish but to tiny South American catfish called candirus.’
- ‘Catfish are also extremely diverse, ranging in size from tiny three-quarter-inch-long bloodsucking candiru to the six-foot-long 300-pound monsters known as piraiba.’
- ‘The most widely discussed, if highly controversial, theory is that candirus are attracted to urine streams, mistaking them for the gill streams of fish.’
- ‘In fact, the candiru is one of a very few vertebrate parasites that targets humans.’
- ‘The candiru feeds parasitically by burrowing into body orifices, jamming itself in place using barbs along its sides then drinking the blood of its victim.’
Mid 19th century: via Portuguese from Tupi candirú.
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