A general term for any of numerous (often unrelated) freshwater or saltwater fish, many of which are characterized by spiny fins. In fact, though many of these different species are often sold simply as bass, the only fish with the single name "bass" is a European species (unavailable in the United States), which in France is known as bar or loup. True basses include the groupers, black sea bass and striped bass. Among other fish that are commonly referred to as bass are the largemouth, redeye, rock, smallmouth and spotted bass, all of which are really members of the sunfish family. See also sea bass; fish.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.