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

  • n. A small fish (Leuresthes tenuis) of coastal waters of California and Mexico that spawns at night along beaches during the high tides of spring and summer.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Either of two small fish, of the genus Leuresthes, found along the coast of Mexico and southern California, that spawn in the wet sand at certain high tides.


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

Perhaps from Spanish gruñón, grumbler, from gruñir, to grumble, grunt, from Latin grunnīre, grundīre, to grunt.


  • A grunion is a small, sardinelike fish that lays its eggs on dry sand on certain full moon cycles each year.

    Full Frontal Nudity

  • Those mosh-pit women clot like those spawning fish called grunion, I said.

    Dancing with Werewolves

  • It is the story of the education, along with a few other of her shared memories of little things, that have brought my mother and Fitzgerald together alive for me: Fitzgerald looking at her “with such love,” with his head cocked to one side, the two of them lying at opposite ends of a sofa with their shoes and socks off and massaging one another's toes, the two of them at Malibu scooping into buckets the tiny fish called grunion that come onto the beach at night to spawn.

    We Remember - Sheilah Graham, 1904 - 1988

  • When the grunion “run” they seemingly run up the beach on their tails, lay their eggs, and then flop back down to the water to ride a wave out to sea.

    Full Frontal Nudity

  • He told me that catching grunion by hand was illegal and that he was having the same conversation with all the boys.

    Full Frontal Nudity

  • At first I thought it was the combination of sand and salt from my romp in the ocean with the grunion, but soon I came to realize the worst.

    Full Frontal Nudity

  • The grunion is and was a protected fish, and catching them by hand as they lay their eggs is not only cruel and stupid but also illegal.

    Full Frontal Nudity

  • We used to go watch the grunion run up on the beach and flop around in the moonlight by the thousands.

    Go Name Yourself

  • Ladies in fashionable evening dresses, held up to their knees, laughing and playing, chasing grunion at the water's edge.

    Baja California - Hotel Playas Ensenada

  • Grayson opens with descriptions of the eerie yet magical encounters Lynne had with grunion.

    Grayson by Lynne Cox: Questions


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Tiny (3- to 6-ounce) fish found along the Southern California coast, known for their spawning habits. The "running of the grunion" occurs by the light of the full moon as these silvery fish wriggle their way above high tide to spawn in the wet sand. Legally, grunion can only be caught by hand, though many people snare them with nets or scoops. The moderately fat grunion are best broiled, deep-fried or sautéed

    July 13, 2009

  • I learned this word from watching a Disney Sing-along video my spawn had years ago.

    April 9, 2008

  • Merriam-Webster Dictionary:


    Etymology: probably from Spanish gruñón grunter

    Date: 1917

    : a silverside (Leuresthes tenuis) of the California coast notable for the regularity with which it comes inshore to spawn at nearly full moon

    As a child growing up in California I remember the "grunion run" when crowds of people would assemble on the beach in the moonlight and scoop up dozens and dozens of the grunion fish as they came inshore to spawn. In those days I thought it was quite a fun and festive time but now it seems unfair and cruel.

    February 4, 2008