There are 2 main definitions of fish in English:

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Syllabification: fish
Pronunciation: /fiSH

noun (plural same or fishes)

1A limbless cold-blooded vertebrate animal with gills and fins and living wholly in water: the sea is thick with fish
More example sentences
  • Comparable studies of fishes and other aquatic vertebrates are scarce, despite a wealth of neontological data.
  • Snakes employ shivering thermogenesis, which acts to warm their eggs, amphipods actively ventilate the brood pouch, and fishes fan to increase water circulation.
  • It seems that they don't know that the first vertebrates were fish.
1.1The flesh of fish as food: hot crab appetizers stuffed with fish
More example sentences
  • If drinking was to continue after the cooked food had been exhausted, dried meat and fish were served.
  • You are, however, allowed to eat as much red meat, poultry, fish and fatty foods, like heavy cream, as you want.
  • For a true taste of Croatian Adriatic cuisine seek out the tiny tavernas where you can eat superb local fish and sea food.
1.2 (the Fish or Fishes) The zodiacal sign or constellation Pisces.
1.3Used in names of invertebrate animals living wholly in water, e.g., cuttlefish, shellfish, jellyfish.
1.4 [with adjective] informal A person who is strange in a specified way: he is generally thought to be a bit of a cold fish
More example sentences
  • Their attempt to soften the electorate's impression of her as a scientific cold fish is one of the few amusing spectacles in a grim political landscape.
  • Perhaps every writer of fiction suspects himself or herself to be a cold fish at heart, a mere spectator of other people's joys and passions.
  • She has a tendency to use quite clinical language - which masks deep emotions, but can make her look a bit of a cold fish on the page.
1.5 informal A torpedo.


[no object] Back to top  
1Catch or try to catch fish, typically by using a net or hook and line: he was fishing for bluefish I’ve told the girls we’ve gone fishing
More example sentences
  • There is no benefit from hanging an entire shrimp off a hook when fishing for coastal panfish.
  • Fish of this size have been caught by anglers targeting the chub and also by anglers fishing for the sea trout.
  • He and his girlfriend, Carolina, had gone fishing for the summer, and had turned their cellphone off.
go fishing, angle, cast, trawl, troll, seine
1.1 [with object] Catch or try to catch fish in (a particular body of water): they did fish the mountain streams when game grew scarce
More example sentences
  • A friend of mine who fishes a very easy water has in the past few weeks landed 98 carp.
  • Jack fished some fast water just upstream of Redscar wood known as Duck Island.
  • Now, the final nail in the coffin, drastic cuts in the number of days our few remaining fishermen are allowed to fish our own waters.
1.2Search, typically by groping or feeling for something concealed: he fished for his registration certificate and held it up to the policeman’s flashlight
More example sentences
  • In response, I fished for my tiny silver cell phone and flipped it open.
  • Then he reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet, fishing a business card out of it.
  • He pulled on his jacket and fished the keys out of his pocket.
search, delve, look, hunt;
grope, fumble, ferret (about/around), root around/about, rummage (around/about)
1.3Try subtly or deviously to elicit a response or some information from someone: I was not fishing for compliments
More example sentences
  • Every one was helpful and eager to practice their English, proud of their country, if not their politicians, always fishing for compliments.
  • Joss, meanwhile, is just blatantly fishing for compliments.
  • The first time I got naked with this guy I was dating, I went fishing for compliments and made a comment about a totally insignificant part of my body.
try to get, seek to obtain, solicit, angle for, aim for, hope for, cast around/about for, be after
1.4 [with object] (fish something out) Pull or take something out of water or a container: the body of a woman had been fished out of the river
More example sentences
  • Directed by the helicopter, nine people were fished out of the water and they told the rescue team that the boat had been taken over by terrorists.
  • By the time help arrived, most of the parents had fished their children out of the blackened water.
  • I fished the phone out of the water, and also my camera, and waded to the shore.
pull out, haul out, remove, extricate, extract, retrieve;
rescue from, save from


Old English fisc (as a noun denoting any animal living exclusively in water), fiscian (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch vis, vissen and German Fisch, fischen.


The normal plural of fish is fish ( a shoal of fish; he caught two huge fish). The older form fishes is still used, but almost exclusively when referring to different kinds of fish ( freshwater fishes of the Great Lakes).


a big fish

An important or influential person: he became a big fish in the world of politics
More example sentences
  • Although the police arrested his manager in Delhi, the big fish escaped to Bangkok.
  • He enjoys being a big fish, playing with the politicians who make a difference.
  • And the remaining 2000 cases are moving slowly and no big fish has been arrested.

a big fish in a small (or little) pond

A person seen as important and influential only within the limited scope of a small organization or group.
Example sentences
  • The customer feels like a big fish in a small pond.
  • Alone, we'll always be a big fish in a small pond.
  • I do think that I had the benefit of being a big fish in a small pond in Scotland, whereas if I'd gone to London, it might have taken me a lot longer to break through.

drink like a fish

Drink excessive amounts of alcohol.
Example sentences
  • He works like a dog, drinks like a fish, and pops beer caps off with his teeth.
  • He was drinking like a fish, every night, into the wee hours.
  • He drinks like a fish, and yet never seems intoxicated.

fish or cut bait

see bait.

a fish out of water

A person in a completely unsuitable environment or situation.
Example sentences
  • ‘I've always been a fish out of water, never accepted,’ he says.
  • ‘I find acting nerve-racking and I feel like a fish out of water,’ he says.
  • I might be a fish out of water, but I reckon I've heard them all.

fished out

Depleted of fish: the grayling here have hardly been fished out
More example sentences
  • The herring was fished out by the 1970s.
  • The exploited species that are fished out in the fishing areas are abundant in marine reserves, as you might expect.
  • Some anglers say sadly that the New Zealand rivers are all fished out.

have other (or bigger) fish to fry

Have other (or more important) matters to attend to.
Example sentences
  • To be honest it's a trivial matter and I have bigger fish to fry.
  • So I think we ought to respect this threat and we ought to be very careful, but obviously we still have other fish to fry with the international terrorist network.
  • But the people exploiting this saga have other fish to fry.

like shooting fish in a barrel

Extremely easy: picking cultivated berries is like shooting fish in a barrel
More example sentences
  • Teenagers are too easy to make fun of - it's like shooting fish in a barrel, so why bother?
  • It's a bit like shooting fish in a barrel otherwise.
  • And I agree with Jim, it's like shooting fish in a barrel.

neither fish nor fowl (nor good red herring)

Of indefinite character and difficult to identify or classify.
Example sentences
  • The Tory peer, said: ‘The whole system has to be looked at afresh because at present it is neither fish nor fowl.’
  • Trying to satisfy all constituents, it has usually come down right in the middle - not a good place to be, neither fish nor fowl.
  • ‘Now they are neither fish nor fowl and fewer students are taking them’, he said.

there are plenty more fish in the sea

Used to console someone whose romantic relationship has ended by pointing out that there are many other people with whom they may have a successful relationship in the future.
Example sentences
  • Because if a relationship doesn't work out, they know there are plenty more fish in the sea.
  • ‘Oh and I suppose you will tell me next that there are plenty more fish in the sea’ yelled Giles.
  • How many more times do we have to remind you of this, he is just using you and there are plenty more fish in the sea, then you will see what love really is!



Example sentences
  • The cuticle may be left feeling extremely rough or in some cases the delicate cuticle fishlike scales may be permanently damaged or burned off.
  • He provides a sketch of a creature with the head of an elephant, a fishlike body with a camel hump, four legs like a lion, and a forked tail like a fish.
  • That's when I saw the spiny ridge that ran the length of her back to the fishlike tail that existed where her legs should have been.

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There are 2 main definitions of fish in English:

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Syllabification: fish
Pronunciation: /fiSH


A flat plate of metal, wood, or another material that is fixed on a beam or across a joint in order to give additional strength, especially on a ship’s damaged mast or spar as a temporary repair.


[with object] Back to top  
1Mend or strengthen (a beam, joint, mast, etc.) with a fish.
1.1Join (rails in a railroad track) with a fishplate.


early 16th century: probably from French fiche, from ficher 'to fix', based on Latin figere.

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