Fish Idioms


A fish is a vertebrate with fins that has no limbs and possesses gills.

Some of the most popular ones (as seafood) include tilapia, tuna, salmon, pollock, cod and catfish.

This word comes from the Old English fisc.

Overfishing is one of the main problems plaguing our marine friends today. As the fishing industry has grown, so too have organizations trying to stop extinction of certain species.

Because this is such an historic and old word in humanity’s history, it has a lot of idioms and related words.

Idioms With the Word FishMaimonides - Give a man a fish

A big fish: An important individual. Example: he’s the big fish in the pond and he’s got all the responsibilities.

A big fish in a small pond: An individual that is perceived as top dog in his sphere of influence. However, the implication here is that this individual is top dog in a very small community or organization, and so this idiom is generally used in a derogatory fashion.

A cold fish: A person who is cold-hearted and does not engage in expressing his or her feelings very much. This idiom originally comes from Shakespeare. This can also be used to refer to a person who does not move or do much during sex.

A fine kettle of fish: A difficult and awkward situation. A pretty kettle is also used.

A fish out of water: An individual in an environment that is not suited for him; being out of place and not knowing what to do; or to be in a situation where you feel uncomfortable and don’t know what to do.

A queer fish: A British expression that is used to explain to someone (“You’re a queer fish, aren’t you?“) that their behavior is unusual and weird.


All is fish that comes to his (or her) net: A proverb with a simple meaning: you should take advantage of any opportunities that come your way. Example: Any new clients are fish that comes to our net, and we should embrace them.

As much as a fish needs a bicycle: Used to explain that something isn’t needed. Originally used in the phrase “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle“.

Be a different/be a whole other/be another different kettle of fish: To be very different from someone else, or something else. Example: Your sister is a very different kettle of fish from you.

Be neither fish nor fowl: Something not easily categorized. You can also use neither fish nor flesh.

Better fish to fry: This idiom means that someone has better things to do, e.g.: I’ve got better fish to fry. Other words can be used instead of better, such as other.

Crooked as a barrel of fish hooks: Expression used to explain that someone is a liar or just very suspicious.

Drink like a fish: To drink a lot of alcohol.

Fish around: To search a location as if you’re looking for something.

Fish eye: A threatening look; to look daggers at someone. This is also a photography term for a special wide-angle lens used to make panoramic photos.

Fish for: To look for (something).

Fish for a compliment: Looking for a compliment.

All men are equal before fish.

Fish in troubled waters: To get into a dangerous or difficult situation.

Fish or cut bait: This idiom means that you should either do a specific task or don’t do it at all and get out of the way.

Fish story: Basically, an elaborate lie. Tale is sometimes used instead of story.

Fish something up out of something: Getting something out of something.

Fishkiss: A kiss with puckered lips.

Like shooting fish in a barrel: Very easy.

Not the only fish in the sea: There are many other individuals that would be suited for the task (this is usually used in the context of romantic relationships). Also used: plenty of fish in the sea; there are other great fish in the sea, etc.

Cry stinking fish: A British idiom used to put down someone’s efforts.

What’s that got to do with the price of fish?: An expression used to demonstrate the irrelevance of someone’s words when it comes to the subject at hand; used when they said something that has nothing to do with the conversation.

Words that start with Fish

Fishability: How fishable something is.

Fishable: Somewhere where you can successfully fish.

Fishbolt: A special kind of bolt that is used to secure a fishplate to a rail.

Fishbone: The bones of our marine friends. This word can also be used to refer to the fishbone diagram, which is a cause and effect diagram used to solve problems.

Fishbowl: The place where our pet marine friends live. It’s usually a spherical, transparent bowl made of glass.

Fished: Past tense of fish.

Fisher: Someone who catches small aquatic creatures. Also known as fisherwoman and fisherman.

Fisherfolk: Fishers.

Fishery: An organization that raises and harvests sea creatures.

Henry David Thoreau - Many men go fishing all of their lives

Fishgig: A tool used to spear marine creatures.

Fishhook: A fishing hook.

Fishy: Like a fish. You can also use fishier and fishiest. Other words that mean the same thing are fishily, fishiness, fishlike

Fishing: The act of catching aquatic animals of the small variety.

Fishkill: A creek full of our marine friends. Fishkill is also a town in New York.

Fishless: Without fish.

Fishline: A fishing line.

Fishmeal: A special meal made of ground dried fish, usually used to feed animals.

Fishmonger: A store or individual that sells seafood.

Fishnet: Usually refers to the net that is used to catch our marine friends, but there is also a type of clothing (a mesh fabric, to be exact) with this name.

Fishplate: A metal that joins rails in a railroad track.

Fishpole: A fishing pole.

Fishpond: A pond filled with… well, I think you get the idea.

Fishtail: Something that has a fork similar to the tail of a fish. To move like a fishtail means to move haphazardly. Fishtailing is also a police chasing technique that tries to destabilize a vehicle (so the suspect can be apprehended).

Fishway: A fish ladder—a number of structures that allow aquatic creatures to get through obstacles so their normal migration patterns are not prevented.

Fishwife: This word used to mean a woman that sells seafood; nowadays it’s used to describe a loud and rude woman.

Fishworm: A bait, usually an earthworm. More rarely, this word can also be used to refer to parasites (worms) that sometimes infest fishes.