Catfish originally refers to a species of fish, equipped with barbells around its mouth, looking like the moustache of a feline, while it has no scales on its body.
However, in modern day context, a “catfish” is a person, who retains a fake online alter ego, to seduce and romantically abuse the trust of people on the web.
“Catfishing” is most popular on dating sites, however there are numerous cases of it happening on various social media sites.
Origin of the term
The notion of a “catfish” associated with a fake identity comes from a Christian parable, from the early 1900’s, however it truly got popularized in 2010, when a TV documentary, named after the species of fish was broadcasted about a boy, who lived in a false online relationship on Facebook.
The documentary had retained great popularity.
So much so, that in 2012, an MTV reality show was started, titled Catfish: The TV Show.
The series is following a couple of people in online relationships, trying to find out if they had been “catfished”.
Spread of the term
The predatory practice had even created victims among celebrities, for example football player Manti Te’o found out, his girlfriend was but a man, “catfishing” him.
Following the success of the TV documentary, as well as the series, a number of Urban Dictionary entries had been uploaded to the site, describing the dangers of online dating.
- Ditch The Label – Am I Being Catfished? How To Spot A Fake Profile on Dating Apps & Social Media
- Urban Dictionary – Catfish