starfish vs. sea star

  • Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    There's a limit to how much information you can get from a less-than-one-sentence dictionary definition. The common names of individual species are generally one or the other although common names are always a bit of a mess. For example:
    Pisaster ochraceus - Wikipedia
    Pisaster ochraceus, generally known as the purple sea star, ochre sea star, or ochre starfish, is a common starfish found among the waters of the Pacific Ocean.
    There's a related family of animals called "brittle stars" which aren't starfish.
    Brittle star - Wikipedia
     

    Le Gallois bilingue

    Senior Member
    English (U.K.)
    For me,BritE, it’s starfish. Never heard of sea star. However, if it helps, the French for a starfish is une étoile de mer which translates as a sea star.
     

    Dominic Lucey

    Senior Member
    English
    Hey, like all of you I agree that the most widely understood and common word is starfish. However, I've heard the term 'sea star' used in some documentaries lately and an article online National Geographic explained that: 'Marine scientists have undertaken the difficult task of replacing the beloved starfish's common name with sea star because, well, the starfish is not a fish. It's an echinoderm, closely related to sea urchins and sand dollars'.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Slippery slope. If anyone's confused because starfish, jellyfish and silverfish seem to be fish but actually aren't, we'd have to also rename sea lions, sea anemones, Welsh rabbit, Bombay duck, and lots of other common English names.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    In addition to sea lion and sea anemone (staying in the sea):
    I always add a few slices of sea cucumber to my cheese sandwiches.
    One of the Queen's sea horses has won the 3.30 at Epsom.
    20,000 sea fans attended the gig.
    I had to chase a gang of sea urchins off my lawn this morning.
    Sea slugs have eaten all my prize-winning dahlias again.
    They found half a dozen prairie oysters clinging to the hull.
    [okay, enough]
     
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    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Gosh. I've always assumed that Bombay duck was the equivalent of Peking duck, but curried. :oops:
    I suspected that the implied assertion that it was no such thing was a fishy story, and I was right, but not in the way I expected. :D
     

    Dominic Lucey

    Senior Member
    English
    Apologies if my first message was poorly worded. I'm not in favour of using sea star instead of starfish and would encourage everybody to continue using the word starfish as it's existed for as long as I can remember and is widely understood. I agree that it was unnecessary to rename the starfish. I wasn't trying to discourage the use of the word starfish, I was just sharing the explanation for why they coined the term sea star.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    they coined the term sea star.
    Except "they" didn't coin (invent) the term. Here's a snippet from "The parochial history and antiquities of Stockton upon Tees" by John Brewster (1829) using both terms.
    1653229979066.png
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Apologies if my first message was poorly worded. I'm not in favour of using sea star instead of starfish
    Apologies if you thought I was taking the mick out of you, Dominic. My 'target' was the marine idiots scientists who imagine, for some unfathomable reason, that language must always 'make sense' :)
     
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