The name mahi-mahi comes from the Hawaiian language and means "very strong", through the process of reduplication. Though the species is also referred to as the common dolphinfish, the use of "dolphin" can be misleading as they are not related to dolphins; see Coryphaena for the possible etymologies of "dolphinfish". In parts of the Pacific and along the English-speaking coast of South Africa, the mahi-mahi is commonly referred to by its name in Spanish, dorado. In the Mediterranean island of Malta, the mahi-mahi is referred to as the lampuka.
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