Fish Idioms


Fish idioms are a unique and interesting aspect of the English language that can add color and depth to everyday conversation. These idioms are expressions that use fish-related words and phrases to convey a particular meaning or sentiment. They are often used in both formal and informal settings, and their popularity has only grown with time.

List of Fish Idioms

  • (On a) Fishing Expedition
  • A Cold Fish
  • Big Fish
  • Fish Out of Water
  • Make Fish of One and Fowl of the Other
  • Different Kettle of Fish
  • All Is Fish That Comes To His Net
  • Better Fish To Fry
  • Big Fish In A Small Pond
  • Cry Stinking Fish (UK)
  • Drink Like A Fish
  • Fish For A Compliment
  • Like Shooting Fish In A Barrel
  • Neither Fish Nor Fowl
  • Teach A Man To Fish
  • The Cat Would Eat Fish But Would Not Wet Her Feet
  • What’s That Got To Do With The Price of Fish? (UK)
  • A Fish Story

Fish Idioms

Fish Idioms with Meaning and Examples

List of fish idioms and expressions with meaning and example sentences.

(On a) Fishing Expedition

  • Meaning: Looking for evidence without any solid suspicion of wrongdoing.
  • Example: The detective was on a fishing expedition, hoping to find some clues that would help him solve the case.

A Cold Fish

  • Meaning: Someone who is unemotional or unresponsive.
  • Example: My boss is a cold fish, he never smiles or shows any emotion.

Big Fish

  • Meaning: Someone who is important or influential.
  • Example: The CEO of the company is a big fish, he makes all the important decisions.

Fish Out of Water

  • Meaning: Someone who is in an unfamiliar or uncomfortable situation.
  • Example: Being at the party made me feel like a fish out of water, I didn’t know anyone there.

Make Fish of One and Fowl of the Other

  • Meaning: To create confusion or mix things up.
  • Example: The new employee made fish of one and fowl of the other by getting all the files mixed up.

Different Kettle of Fish

  • Meaning: Something that is completely different from what was previously discussed.
  • Example: I thought we were talking about going to the beach, but now you’re talking about hiking? That’s a different kettle of fish.

All Is Fish That Comes To His Net

  • Meaning: Someone who is successful at everything they do.
  • Example: John is so lucky, everything he tries seems to work out for him. All is fish that comes to his net.

Better Fish To Fry

  • Meaning: To have more important things to do.
  • Example: I can’t come to the party tonight, I have better fish to fry.

Big Fish In A Small Pond

  • Meaning: Someone who is important or influential in a small group or community.
  • Example: He may be a big fish in a small pond, but he’s not well-known outside of his hometown.

Cry Stinking Fish (UK)

  • Meaning: To criticize oneself or make derogatory remarks.
  • Example: She’s always crying stinking fish, she needs to learn to be more confident.

Drink Like A Fish

  • Meaning: To drink alcohol excessively.
  • Example: He drank like a fish at the party last night and ended up getting sick.

Fish For A Compliment

  • Meaning: To try to get someone to compliment you.
  • Example: She’s always fishing for compliments, it’s really annoying.

Like Shooting Fish In A Barrel

  • Meaning: Something that is very easy to do.
  • Example: With all the resources we have, this project will be like shooting fish in a barrel.

Neither Fish Nor Fowl

  • Meaning: Something that is hard to classify or define.
  • Example: This new restaurant is neither fish nor fowl, I can’t tell if it’s a bar or a restaurant.

Teach A Man To Fish

  • Meaning: To teach someone a skill that will benefit them for life.
  • Example: Instead of just giving him money, I decided to teach him how to fish so he could support himself.

The Cat Would Eat Fish But Would Not Wet Her Feet

  • Meaning: Someone who is very particular about doing things.
  • Example: She’s so picky, the cat would eat fish but would not wet her feet.

What’s That Got To Do With The Price of Fish? (UK)

  • Meaning: To ask someone what something has to do with the current situation.
  • Example: What’s that got to do with the price of fish? We’re talking about something completely different.

A Fish Story

  • Meaning: A story that is exaggerated or untrue.
  • Example: He told us a fish story about how he caught a huge fish, but we all know it’s not true.

Cultural Significance of Fish Idioms

Fish idioms have been an integral part of the English language for centuries. They have found their way into literature, everyday conversation, and even popular culture. In this section, we will explore the cultural significance of fish idioms and their impact on the English language.

Fish Idioms in Literature

Fish idioms have been used extensively in literature. They add depth and meaning to the text and help the reader understand the context of the story. For example, in Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea,” the protagonist Santiago says, “Fish, I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends.” This quote not only showcases Santiago’s love for fishing but also his determination to catch the fish.

Another example of fish idioms in literature is in the classic novel “Moby-Dick” by Herman Melville. The book is filled with references to fish and fishing, including the famous line, “Call me Ishmael.” This quote is a reference to the biblical story of Ishmael, who was cast out to sea by his father Abraham.

Fish Idioms in Everyday Conversation

Fish idioms are not just limited to literature. They are also commonly used in everyday conversation. For example, when someone is in a difficult situation, they might say, “I’m in a fine kettle of fish.” This phrase means that they are in a predicament.

Another common fish idiom is “to fish for compliments.” This phrase means to try to get someone to say something nice about you without directly asking for it. For example, if someone says, “I’m not very good at this,” and you respond with, “Oh, don’t be silly. You’re amazing at it,” you are fishing for compliments.