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Flounder vs. Halibut — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on September 22, 2023
Flounder and halibut are both flatfish, but flounder is smaller and halibut is larger and often sought after by fishermen.
Flounder vs. Halibut — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Flounder and Halibut


Key Differences

Flounder and halibut are species of flatfish, both residing primarily on the ocean floor. While flounder is commonly used to refer to a variety of species within its group, halibut refers to specific species within the larger flatfish category.
Flounder and halibut both have both eyes on one side of their head, a unique adaptation for their benthic lifestyle. The main difference between flounder and halibut, in terms of appearance, is their size and sometimes coloration.
Flounder, being a general term, encompasses a range of smaller flatfish species. These species are found in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Halibut, on the other hand, tends to be much larger, making it a popular target for commercial and recreational fishermen.
Both flounder and halibut are prized for their delicate and flavorful meat. In the culinary world, flounder is often used in dishes that call for a subtle, tender fish. Halibut, with its thicker fillets, can handle bolder flavors and cooking methods.

Comparison Chart


Generally smaller

Culinary Use

Suited for subtle flavors
Handles bolder flavors and methods

Fishing Interest

Often recreational
Popular for both recreational & commercial


Both Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
Predominantly colder northern waters


General term for various species
Specific species within flatfish

Compare with Definitions


To move with difficulty.
The horse floundered in the muddy field.


A primary target for northern fishermen.
The fishermen set out early to catch halibut.


A type of flatfish.
I caught a flounder while fishing near the shore.


A large flatfish popular in cooking.
I grilled the halibut with some lemon and herbs.


To struggle clumsily or helplessly.
He began to flounder in the deep snow.


Known for its white, flaky meat.
The halibut fillet was tender and delicious.


Flounders are a group of flatfish species. They are demersal fish, found at the bottom of oceans around the world; some species will also enter estuaries.


Found mainly in the cold waters of the North Pacific and North Atlantic.
The best halibut comes from the icy waters of Alaska.


To move clumsily or with little progress, as through water or mud.


Often served as steaks due to its size.
We ordered a halibut steak at the seaside restaurant.


To act or function in a confused or directionless manner; struggle
"Some ... floundered professionally, never quite deciding what they wanted to do" (Steve Olson). See Usage Note at founder1.


Halibut is the common name for three flatfish in the genera Hippoglossus and Reinhardtius from the family of right-eye flounders and, in some regions, and less commonly, other species of large flatfish. The word is derived from haly (holy) and butte (flat fish), for its popularity on Catholic holy days.


The act of floundering.


Any of several large edible flatfishes of the genus Hippoglossus and related genera, of northern Atlantic or Pacific waters.


Any of various marine flatfishes chiefly of the families Bothidae and Pleuronectidae, including several important food fishes.


A large flatfish of the genus Hippoglossus, which sometimes leaves the ocean floor and swims vertically.


A European species of flatfish having dull brown colouring with reddish-brown blotches; fluke, European flounder, Platichthys flesus.


A large, northern, marine flatfish (Hippoglossus vulgaris), of the family Pleuronectidæ. It often grows very large, weighing more than three hundred pounds. It is an important food fish.


(North America) Any of various flatfish of the family Pleuronectidae or Bothidae.


Lean flesh of very large flatfish of Atlantic or Pacific


A bootmaker's tool for crimping boot fronts.


Marine food fish of the northern Atlantic or northern Pacific; the largest flatfish and one of the largest teleost fishes


(intransitive) To act clumsily or confused; to struggle or be flustered.
He gave a good speech, but floundered when audience members asked questions he could not answer well.


(intransitive) To flop around as a fish out of water.


(intransitive) To make clumsy attempts to move or regain one's balance.
Robert yanked Connie's leg vigorously, causing her to flounder and eventually fall.


To be in serious difficulty.


A flatfish of the family Pleuronectidæ, of many species.


A tool used in crimping boot fronts.


The act of floundering.


To fling the limbs and body, as in making efforts to move; to struggle, as a horse in the mire, or as a fish on land; to roll, toss, and tumble; to flounce.
They have floundered on from blunder to blunder.


Flesh of any of various American and European flatfish


Any of various European and non-European marine flatfish


Walk with great difficulty;
He staggered along in the heavy snow


Behave awkwardly; have difficulties;
She is floundering in college


To act or speak with confusion.
She floundered during her speech.


A falter or stumble.
His argument hit a flounder when he forgot his facts.

Common Curiosities

Which is bigger, flounder or halibut?

Halibut is typically larger than flounder.

What are flounder and halibut?

Flounder and halibut are both species of flatfish.

Are both flounder and halibut popular in cooking?

Yes, both are prized for their flavorful meat.

Where can you find flounder?

Flounder can be found in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

How do flounder and halibut adapt to their environment?

Both have eyes on one side of their head, suiting their bottom-dwelling lifestyle.

How are flounder and halibut usually prepared in dishes?

Flounder is often lightly seasoned and fried or grilled, while halibut can be served as steaks or fillets and pairs well with bolder flavors.

What does "flounder" mean in terms of movement?

To "flounder" means to struggle clumsily or move with difficulty.

Where is halibut predominantly found?

Halibut is mainly found in colder northern waters of the North Pacific and North Atlantic.

Do flounder and halibut taste the same?

While both have delicate flavors, halibut has a firmer texture and can handle bolder flavors compared to flounder.

Is flounder the name of a specific species?

No, flounder is a general term for various species of flatfish.

Are there any specific dishes popularly made from flounder and halibut?

Flounder is commonly used in dishes like stuffed flounder, while halibut is popular in steaks, fillets, and even fish and chips.

How can I differentiate between flounder and halibut in a fish market?

Look at the size; halibut is generally larger and has thicker fillets than flounder.

Are flounder and halibut fished commercially?

Yes, especially halibut which is a primary target for northern fishermen.

Which is more expensive in the market, flounder or halibut?

Generally, halibut is more expensive due to its size and demand.

Are flounder and halibut healthy to eat?

Yes, both are lean sources of protein and rich in essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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