FISH Idioms: 18 Commonly Used Fish Idioms with Examples

In this lesson, you will learn 18 useful Fish Idioms in English with meaning and examples.

Learn more about common animal idioms in English.

Commonly Used Fish Idioms in English

(On a) Fishing Expedition

  • Meaning: Looking for evidence without any solid suspicion of wrongdoing
  • Example: This court will not allow the prosecution to go on a fishing expedition. Please keep your questions specific and to the point.

A Cold Fish

  • Meaning: Someone who is not often moved by emotions, who is regarded as being hard and unfeeling.
  • Example: The manager decided not to hire Bill as the store greeter because he came across like a cold fish during the interview.

Big Fish

  • Meaning: An important person
  • Example: Talk to Jon. He’s the big fish in the organization. He can help you get things done.

Fish Out of Water

  • Meaning: A person who is in unfamiliar, confusing surroundings
  • Example: I’m usually very friendly, but when I traveled to India I was a fish out of water.

Make Fish of One and Fowl of the Other

  • Meaning: People must be treated equally
  • Example: The contract calls for new hires to be paid less permanently. But why make fish of one and fowl of the other?
    Note: This is very old-fashioned and rare.

Different Kettle of Fish

  • Meaning: Not comparable (with something that has been under discussion)
  • Example: You may think you know sailing, but the currents at Tierra del Fuego are a different kettle of fish.
    This is less common in the USA.

All Is Fish That Comes To His Net

  • Meaning: A phrase that describes one’s ability to make use of anything available
  • Example: I don’t know how Chris fixed his car with the few tools he had with him at the time, but he’s so smart like that – all is fish that comes to his net.

Better Fish To Fry

  • Meaning: More important matters to deal with
  • Example: I can’t worry about that now, I’ve got better fish to fry!

Big Fish In A Small Pond

  • Meaning: A situation in which one person has more power, influence, knowledge, or experience than others within a small group
  • Example: As the manager of a local company, he enjoys being a big fish in a small pond.

Cry Stinking Fish (UK)

  • Meaning: To undermine one’s own efforts. To put oneself down
  • Example: The companies involved are not going to cry stinking fish for sell.

Drink Like A Fish

  • Meaning: Drink excessive amounts of alcohol
  • Example: He drinks like a fish, and yet never seems intoxicated.

Fish For A Compliment

  • Meaning: To attempt to elicit praise from someone, typically by saying negative things about oneself
  • Example: My daughter loves to fish for compliments when she manages to do her homework all by herself.

Like Shooting Fish In A Barrel

  • Meaning: Very easy
  • Example: Picking out this item or that for criticism seems unsportsmanlike, like shooting fish in a barrel.

Neither Fish Nor Fowl

  • Meaning: Of indefinite character and difficult to identify or classify
  • Example: Everybody said when we started out that you can’t do this, you won’t make a success of it, you’re neither fish nor fowl.

Teach A Man To Fish

  • Meaning: Teaching someone how to do something is more helpful to him or her in the long run than just doing it for him or her
  • Example: If you teach him to catch a fish you do him a good turn.

The Cat Would Eat Fish But Would Not Wet Her Feet

  • Meaning: In order to get what you want, you must be willing to take risks and endure annoyances
  • Example: I know it will be a lot of work, but you’re so qualified that you have to try for this promotion—the cat would eat fish, but would not wet her feet. 

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

  • Meaning: A rhetorical question calling attention to a non-sequitur or irrelevant statement or suggestion made by another person.
  • Example: I agree that health care is an important issue, but what’s that go to do with the price of fish? We’re discussing tax incentives for local businesses—not exactly a related topic!

A Fish Story

  • Meaning: A big lie
  • Example: That’s just a fish story. Don’t try to fool me.

Commonly Used Fish Idioms | Image

Fish Idioms

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