Definition of grunion in English:



  • A small, slender Californian fish that swarms on to beaches at night to spawn. The eggs are buried in the sand and the young fish are swept out to sea on the following spring tide.

    Leuresthes tenuis, family Atherinidae

    • ‘Along with the grunion, these are the only marine fish known to fully emerge from water solely for the purpose of spawning.’
    • ‘A similar set of tradeoffs may explain why surf smelt, which spawn in fine gravel, can spawn successfully lower in the intertidal zone than grunion, spawning in sand.’
    • ‘She is here competing with other piscivorous (fish-eating) birds in search of anchovy, shiner perch and grunion to eat.’
    • ‘Barracuda eat squid and small fish such as sardines, anchovies, young mackerels and grunions.’
    • ‘This could also affect fish like the grunion, which spawn according to tidal changes.’


Early 20th century: probably from Spanish gruñón ‘grunter’.