Definition of killifish in English:



  • A small toothcarp of fresh or brackish water, typically brightly coloured. They are mainly native to America and include many popular aquarium fishes.

    • ‘Like other visitors, he sees the bustle of life around the mudflats from clams, snails, and crabs, to shorebirds and long-legged waders, and gobies and killifish in the shallows of the estuary.’
    • ‘At Gerritsen we fished for snappers, the baby bluefish which moved into the inlet in late summer, and netted schools of killifish and grass shrimp, blueclaw crabs and barnacle-covered spider crabs.’
    • ‘The only primarily freshwater killifish in the Northeast is banded killifish.’
    • ‘Each year since 1960, more than 35 tropical American species of fishes, including catfishes, characins, electric fishes, killifishes, and cichlids, have been newly described and named.’
    • ‘The freshwater banded killifish and the anadromous rainbow smelt increased in abundance from August into September.’


Early 19th century: apparently from kill and fish.