fish

1 of 2

noun

plural fish or fishes
often attributive
1
a
: an aquatic animal
usually used in combination
starfishcuttlefish
b
: any of numerous cold-blooded strictly aquatic craniate vertebrates that include the bony fishes and usually the cartilaginous and jawless fishes and that have typically an elongated somewhat spindle-shaped body terminating in a broad caudal (see caudal sense 2) fin, limbs in the form of fins when present at all, and a 2-chambered heart by which blood is sent through thoracic gills to be oxygenated
freshwater fish
tropical fish
2
: the flesh of fish used as food
We're having fish for dinner.
3
a
: a person who is caught or is wanted (as in a criminal investigation)
b
: fellow, person
an odd fish
c
: sucker sense 5a
felt sorry for the poor fish
4
: something that resembles a fish: such as
a
Fish or Fishes plural : pisces sense 1
b
: torpedo sense 1b
The submarine's fish hit the freighter.
fishless adjective
fishlike adjective

Illustration of fish

Illustration of fish
  • 1 mandible
  • 2 nasal opening
  • 3 eye
  • 4 cheek
  • 5 operculum
  • 6 dorsal fins
  • 7 lateral line
  • 8 caudal fin
  • 9 scales
  • 10 anal fin
  • 11 anus
  • 12 pectoral fin
  • 13 pelvic fin
  • 14 maxilla
  • 15 premaxilla
  • 16 upper jaw

fish

2 of 2

verb

fished; fishing; fishes

intransitive verb

1
: to attempt to catch fish
2
: to seek something by roundabout means
fishing for a compliment
3
a
: to search for something underwater
fish for pearls
b
: to engage in a search by groping or feeling
fishing around in her purse for her keys

transitive verb

1
a
: to try to catch fish in
b
: to fish with : use (something, such as a boat, a net, or bait) in fishing
2
a
: to go fishing for
fish salmon
b
: to pull or draw as if fishing
fished the ball from under the car
fish wires through a conduit
fishability noun
fishable adjective
Phrases
fish out of water
: a person who is in an unnatural or uncomfortable sphere or situation
The country boy felt like a fish out of water in the big city.
fish to fry
: concerns or interests to pursue
usually used with other
can't deal with that problem now; we've got other fish to fry right now
neither fish nor fowl
: one that does not belong to a particular class or category
The movie is neither fish nor fowl—it's not really a comedy, but it's too light-hearted to be called a drama.
fish or cut bait
: to make a choice between alternatives

Example Sentences

Noun We're having fish for dinner. he's rather an odd fish Verb We spent the afternoon fishing for trout. They fished the stream all morning. She was fishing around in her purse for her keys.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
In China, fish and oranges are Lunar New Year staples, Time writes. Victoria Moorwood, The Enquirer, 21 Jan. 2023 Encompassing four separate marshes, the region has historically been home to a unique range of fish and birdlife, serving as winter habitat for migratory birds and sustaining a productive shrimp and finfish fishery. Wil Crisp, WIRED, 21 Jan. 2023 The commons is open to the public, which will be able to indulge weekend breakfast buffets and order pans of fried fish and chicken for pickup, said Mark J. Webster Sr., who started Real Taste with his wife, Deveree Webster, 25 years ago. Cheryl V. Jackson, The Indianapolis Star, 20 Jan. 2023 The $80-set includes Neytiri, Kiri, Ronal, and Tonowari minifigures, as well as adorable little green fish and a canoe. Sarah Toscano, EW.com, 20 Jan. 2023 My companions devoured fish and chips and pulled pork before beelining for the game room, which, on theme, has vintage machines like Ms. Pac-Man and Tetris. Megan Lisagor Stoessell, BostonGlobe.com, 19 Jan. 2023 Fossils of boney fish and marine crocodiles have been found here, but amateur fossil hunters usually walk away with calcified shells and an occasional shark tooth. Laura Kiniry, Smithsonian Magazine, 18 Jan. 2023 Hearty meals were washed down with wine and hard cider and supplemented with berries, fish, and whale meat, when available. National Geographic, 13 Jan. 2023 Ultimately, the team adds that these results fit with findings on an abundance of other animals, including insects, fish and birds, whose colors represent their ability or inability to resist illnesses. Sam Walters, Discover Magazine, 12 Jan. 2023
Verb
Parents who love to fish will appreciate this five-piece playset that encourages their little one to take up their favorite pastime. Jamie Ballard, Woman's Day, 1 Dec. 2022 Cetas loved to fish and was a voracious knitter, his children said. José Ignacio Castañeda Perez, The Arizona Republic, 7 Nov. 2022 Earth is hemorrhaging species, from mammals to fish and insects. Avery Hurt, Discover Magazine, 3 Dec. 2020 In the deep sea, these visitors are alien: fish with transparent faces and golden eyes, ghost sharks, tongue-red worms. Sabrina Imbler, The Atlantic, 5 Dec. 2022 Meanwhile, the giant Amazonian pirarucu fish the company for years had imported for business-class airline meals became so expensive that the company stopped the trade. Alistair Macdonald, WSJ, 27 Nov. 2022 Kibbles are made of natural meats, poultry, and fish with no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 23 Oct. 2022 That would require a fuller analysis, accounting for the fact that the boats can no longer fish inside the reserve. Byerik Stokstad, science.org, 20 Oct. 2022 Add clam broth and fish stock and bring to a light simmer. San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 Dec. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fish.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Old English fisc; akin to Old High German fisc fish, Latin piscis

First Known Use

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of fish was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near fish

Cite this Entry

“Fish.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fish. Accessed 31 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition

fish

1 of 2 noun
plural fish or fishes
1
a
: a water-dwelling animal
usually used in combination
starfishcuttlefish
b
: a cold-blooded vertebrate animal with a typically long scaly tapering body, limbs developed as fins, and a vertical tail fin that lives and breathes in water
2
: the flesh of fish used as food
fishlike adjective

fish

2 of 2 verb
1
: to catch or try to catch fish
2
a
: to catch or try to catch fish in
fish the stream
b
: to search for something underwater
fishing for pearls
3
: to seek something by or as if by groping or feeling
fished for compliments
fished in his pocket for change

Biographical Definition

Fish

biographical name

Hamilton 1808–1893 American statesman

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