dogfish








noun, plural (especially collectively) dog·fish, (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) dog·fish·es.

  1. any of several small sharks, especially of the genera Mustelus and Squalus, that are destructive to food fishes.
  2. any of various other fishes, as the bowfin.

noun plural -fish or -fishes

  1. any of several small spotted European sharks, esp Scyliorhinus caniculus (lesser spotted dogfish): family Scyliorhinidae
  2. any small shark of the family Squalidae, esp Squalus acanthias (spiny dogfish), typically having a spine on each dorsal fin
  3. any small smooth-skinned shark of the family Triakidae, esp Mustelus canis (smooth dogfish or smooth hound)
  4. a less common name for the bowfin
n.

a name for various types of small shark, late 15c., dokefyche, from dog (n.) + fish (n.). Said to be so called because they hunt in packs. This was the image of sharks in classical antiquity as well.

But in the Mediterranean, among the Greeks and Romans of antiquity, closer contact with sharks had left an impression of vicious dogs of the sea. Thus, Pliny’s canis marinus. The metaphor of the dog spread to the North to dominate the European image of the shark, from the Italian pescecane and French chien de mer to the German Meerhund and Hundfisch and English sea dog and dogfish. [Tom Jones, “The Xoc, the Sharke and the Sea Dogs,” in “Fifth Palenque Round Table, 1983,” edited by Virginia M. Field, 1985.]

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