flying fish


flying fish
1. any fish of the family Exocoetidae, having stiff and greatly enlarged pectoral fins enabling it to glide considerable distances through the air after leaping from the water.
2. (caps.) Astron. the constellation Volans.
[1505-15]

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Any of about 40 species of oceanic fishes (family Exocoetidae).

They are found worldwide in warm waters and are noted for their ability to "fly." All species are less than 18 in. (45 cm) long and have winglike, rigid fins and an unevenly forked tail. Two-winged species have only the pectoral fins enlarged; four-winged species have both the pectoral and the pelvic fins enlarged. Rather than flying, they actually glide after jumping from the water. They can make several consecutive glides; the strongest fliers can travel as much as 600 ft (180 m) in a single glide, and compound glides may cover 1,300 ft (400 m). The behaviour is primarily a means of escaping predators.

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▪ fish grouping
      any of about 40 species of oceanic fishes of the family Exocoetidae (order Atheriniformes), found worldwide in warm waters and noted for their ability to fly. They are all small, attaining a maximum length of about 45 cm (18 inches), and have winglike, rigid fins and an unevenly forked tail. Some species, such as the widely distributed Exocoetus volitans, are two-winged, with only the pectoral fins enlarged; others, such as the California flying fish (Cheilopogon), are four-winged, with both the pectoral and pelvic (posterior) fins enlarged.

      A flying fish does not fly, in the sense of flapping its wing-sized fins, but actually glides. The fish builds up speed underwater, swimming toward the surface with its fins folded tightly against its streamlined body. Upon breaking the surface, the fish spreads its enlarged fins and gains additional thrust from rapid beats of the still-submerged tail. When sufficient speed has been attained, the tail is lifted clear of the water and the fish is airborne, gliding a few feet above the surface at a speed of about 16 km/h (10 miles per hour). The fish can make several consecutive glides, the tail propelling it up again each time it sinks back to the surface. The stronger fliers can span as much as 180 m (600 feet) in a single glide, and compound glides, timed as long as 43 seconds, may cover 400 m (1,300 feet).

      Flight for these fishes is primarily a means of escaping predators. Flying fish can attain enough height to carry them onto the decks of ships in their waters, where their remains are frequently discovered at dawn.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • flying fish — flying fishes N VAR (flying fish can also be used as the plural form.) Flying fish are a type of fish that live in warm seas. They have large fins that enable them to move forward in the air when they jump out of the water …   English dictionary

  • Flying fish — Fly ing fish (Zo[ o]l.) A fish which is able to leap from the water, and fly a considerable distance by means of its large and long pectoral fins. These fishes belong to several species of the genus {Exoc[oe]tus}, and are found in the warmer… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • flying fish — n a type of sea fish that can jump out of the water and move along in the air for a short way …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • flying fish — noun count a fish that can move through the air by using its large FINS as wings …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • flying fish — ► NOUN ▪ a fish of warm seas which leaps out of the water and uses its wing like pectoral fins to glide for some distance …   English terms dictionary

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  • flying fish — noun tropical marine fishes having enlarged winglike fins used for brief gliding flight • Hypernyms: ↑teleost fish, ↑teleost, ↑teleostan • Hyponyms: ↑monoplane flying fish, ↑two wing flying fish, ↑biplane flying fish, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • flying fish — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms flying fish : singular flying fish plural flying fish a fish that can move through the air by using its large fins as wings …   English dictionary

  • flying fish — /ˈflaɪɪŋ fɪʃ/ (say fluying fish) noun (plural flying fish or flying fishes) any of certain fishes with winglike pectoral fins which help them to glide for some distance through the air after leaping from the water, especially of the family… …   Australian English dictionary


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