Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of various small North American percoid freshwater fishes of the family Centrarchidae, having laterally compressed, often brightly colored bodies and including the crappies, black bass, bluegill, and pumpkinseed.
  • n. Any of several large marine fishes of the family Molidae, especially the ocean sunfish.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of various small freshwater fishes of the family Centrarchidae, often with iridescent colours and having a laterally compressed body.
  • n. Any of various large marine fishes of the family Molidae that have an oval compressed body.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A very large oceanic plectognath fish (Mola mola, Mola rotunda, or Orthagoriscus mola) having a broad body and a truncated tail.
  • n. Any one of numerous species of perch-like North American fresh-water fishes of the family Centrachidæ. They have a broad, compressed body, and strong dorsal spines. Among the common species of the Eastern United States are Lepomis gibbosus (called also bream, pondfish, pumpkin seed, and sunny), the blue sunfish, or dollardee (L. pallidus), and the long-eared sunfish (L. auritus). Several of the species are called also pondfish.
  • n. The moonfish, or bluntnosed shiner.
  • n. The opah.
  • n. The basking, or liver, shark.
  • n. Any large jellyfish.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To act like a sunfish, specifically as in the quotation.
  • n. A common name of various fishes.
  • n. A jellyfish, especially one of the larger kinds, a foot or so in diameter. See cut under Cyanea.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. among the largest bony fish; pelagic fish having an oval compressed body with high dorsal and anal fins and caudal fin reduced to a rudder-like lobe; worldwide in warm waters
  • n. small carnivorous freshwater percoid fishes of North America usually having a laterally compressed body and metallic luster: crappies; black bass; bluegills; pumpkinseed
  • n. the lean flesh of any of numerous American perch-like fishes of the family Centrarchidae

Etymologies

From its roundish body and bright colors.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
sun +‎ fish (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Some big cities are using bluegills, sometimes known as sunfish or brim -- brim, wherever you live.

    CNN Transcript Sep 19, 2006

  • Some biologists consider the fishes a “superclass, ” and divide them into three classes: bony fishes, such as sunfish and cod; fishes with a skeleton formed of cartilage rather than bone, such as sharks; and fishes that lack jaws, such as lampreys.

    fishes

  • When one of these "sunfish," as the fishermen call them, is lifted from the water, the clay-coloured eggs may be seen to stream from it in myriads.

    The Log of the Sun A Chronicle of Nature's Year

  • And every now and then he'd catch a different kind of sunfish - a redear, a longear, a warmouth and, on occasion, a green sunfish.

    Arkansas Online stories

  • Crunching on the nicely seasoned sunfish tails always brings back great childhood memories.

    The Fried Fish Debate

  • I found a longer bait targeted the 12inch plus smallies better and kept sunfish at bay.

    What Gets Your Smallies Going?

  • Today I went fishing for flathead catfish using sunfish as bait.

    Live bait for Flathead Catfish

  • I've caught ALL of the following on it: largemouth bass, black crappie, white crappie, bluegill, red ear sunfish, white perch, spotted gar, and a channel catfish.

    Favorite Lures of the Crappie Guides

  • Who doesn't love fishing for bass? they're not native west of the Rockies, where I live, and neither are catfish, sunfish, crappies, perch, and walleyes, not to mention that brown trout aren't native to the continent.

    What's Your Favorite Invasive Species?

  • WHY BASS LIKE IT: Hydrilla, lily pads, hyacinths, and other greenery hold forage such as crawfish and sunfish and provide cover, shade, and higher oxygen.

    Late-Summer Bass Fishing Tips: Where and How to Catch Largemouths

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