Originally: any of several small, brightly-coloured serranid fishes found in the Mediterranean and referred to by classical authors; especially the swallowtail sea perch, Anthias anthias. In later use: any of numerous small serranid fishes of the subfamily Anthiinae, many of which swarm on coral reefs, are brightly coloured, and are popular with aquarists.
Most anthias were originally placed in the type genus Anthias.
Early 17th century; earliest use found in Philemon Holland (1552–1637), translator. From classical Latin anthiās from ancient Greek ἀνθίας, of uncertain origin; perhaps from ἄνθος flower + -ίας, suffix forming nouns and adjectives; perhaps so called on account of its rich colours.