One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A fish with a dorsal spine and rough scales, related to the triggerfishes and occurring in tropical and sometimes temperate seas.
Numerous genera and species, family Balistidae (or Monacanthidae)
- ‘Every sort of reef fish competed for meals, the oddest being the boxfish, trunkfish and filefish, all trying to feed through pursed lips.’
- ‘It's simple to get close to animals like scrawled filefish and spiny puffers which prove too timid to approach in the daytime.’
- ‘Sponges constituted the majority of stomach contents of angelfishes and the filefish.’
- ‘Scrawled filefish seem enormous and, of course, the ubiquitous titan and the inappropriately named yellowmargin triggerfish are active everywhere.’
- ‘The grass provides protection from predators, like the parrotfish and filefish that would cruise by.’
Late 18th century: from file (because of its rough skin, suggesting the surface of a file).
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