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star +‎ fish

a starfish


  • IPA(key): /ˈstɑː(ɹ)fɪʃ/
  • (file)


starfish (plural starfishes or starfish)

  1. Any of various asteroids or other echinoderms (not in fact fish) with usually five arms, many of which eat bivalves or corals by everting their stomach.
  2. (obsolete) Any many-armed or tentacled sea invertebrate, whether cnidarian, echinoderm, or cephalopod.
    • 1755, Erik Pontoppidan, translated by Isaac Kimbler, Explanation of the Plate of Uncommon Star Fish, Extracted from the Natural History of Norway:
      But the largest of the star-fish kind is that sea monster called kruken, kraken or krabben. [...] As this enormous sea-animal in all probability may be reckoned of the polype, or of the star-fish, kind, it seems that the parts which are seen rising at its pleasure, and are called arms, are properly the tentacula, or feeding instruments, called horns as well as arms.
  3. (slang) A woman (or, less commonly, a gay man) who reluctantly takes part in sexual intercourse, and lies on the back while spreading the limbs.
  4. (vulgar, slang, usually in translations of Japanese pornography) The anus.
    Synonym: chocolate starfish
    • 2021, Sophie Palmer, Hot Wife: Collection of Explicit Erotic Short Stories:
      Hands separated my ass cheeks while some pervert rimmed my puckered brown starfish.




starfish (third-person singular simple present starfishes, present participle starfishing, simple past and past participle starfished)

  1. (intransitive) To assume a splayed-out shape, like that of a starfish.
    • 1981, Kit Reed, Magic Time, page 229:
      "Oh you damn bastard, why won't you let anybody love you," and then, before I could stop her, she threw herself between us and the glowing suitcase, starfishing in the blaze of light as he blew up.
    • 2020, Becky Manawatu, Auē, page 95:
      The freckle on her eye starfished out and the sun began to move over her face like it does below the surface of water.
  2. (transitive) To form into a splayed-out shape, like that of a starfish.
    • 2011, Polly Williams, It Happened One Summer:
      The sea roared up her nostrils, tunnelled into her ears, and flung her forward, then back, the current pulling her fingers apart, starfishing her hands.

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