Definition of candiru in US English:



  • A minute, slender catfish of the Amazon region that feeds by sucking blood from other fishes and sometimes enters the body orifices of mammals. It is notorious for its occasional habit of entering the urethra of human swimmers.

    Vandellia cirrhosa, family Trichomycteridae

    • ‘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 fearsome reputation belongs not to one of the giant catfish but to tiny South American catfish called candirus.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In fact, the candiru is one of a very few vertebrate parasites that targets humans.’
    • ‘The most widely discussed, if highly controversial, theory is that candirus are attracted to urine streams, mistaking them for the gill streams of fish.’


Mid 19th century: via Portuguese from Tupi candirú.