noun, often attributive
\ ˈfish How to pronounce fish (audio) \
plural fish or fishes

Definition of fish

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : 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.
3a : 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 also : pisces sense 2a
b : torpedo sense 1b The submarine's fish hit the freighter.
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.


fished; fishing; fishes

Definition of fish (Entry 2 of 3)

intransitive verb

1 : to attempt to catch fish
2 : to seek something by roundabout means fishing for a compliment
3a : 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

1a : to try to catch fish in
b : to fish with : use (something, such as a boat, a net, or bait) in fishing
2a : 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
fish or cut bait
: to make a choice between alternatives


biographical name
\ ˈfish How to pronounce Fish (audio) \

Definition of Fish (Entry 3 of 3)

Hamilton 1808–1893 American statesman

Illustration of fish

Illustration of fish


fish 1b: 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

In the meaning defined above

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Other Words from fish


fishless \ ˈfish-​ləs How to pronounce Fish (audio) \ adjective
fishlike \ ˈfish-​ˌlīk How to pronounce Fish (audio) \ adjective


fishability \ ˌfi-​shə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce Fish (audio) \ noun
fishable \ ˈfi-​shə-​bəl How to pronounce Fish (audio) \ adjective

Examples of fish in a Sentence

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun French wines, raw fish and fresh bread with cultured butter. Janelle Bitker, San Francisco Chronicle, 11 Oct. 2021 Dead fish and birds washed ashore as cleanup crews raced to contain the spill, which created an oil slick from Huntington Beach to Newport Beach. New York Times, 9 Oct. 2021 For local fishermen, the contamination means coming back to shore with a smaller catch, foul fish and damaged equipment. Washington Post, 7 Oct. 2021 In Southern California, the extensive clean up continues from the catastrophic oil spill that killed fish and seabirds and shut down beaches. Carter Evans, CBS News, 7 Oct. 2021 Dead birds and fish have washed up near California beaches. Allison Prang, WSJ, 7 Oct. 2021 In the days that followed, the spill has left crude along stretches of sand in Newport Beach, Laguna Beach and Huntington Beach, killing fish and birds and threatening sensitive marine habitats. Ruben Vives, Los Angeles Times, 6 Oct. 2021 Dead birds and fish have already washed ashore, according to Foley, who has been providing updates on Twitter. Madeline Holcombe, CNN, 6 Oct. 2021 If eggs, fish and cheese fit into your eating style, those are smart complete proteins to build into your meals as well. Alyssa Jung, Good Housekeeping, 5 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Crappie fishing will improve rapidly in Bear and Yellow creeks with the cooling water as soon as things clear—troll 1/24 ounce mini-jigs at 12 feet and deeper along the channel, or fish live minnows over channel-side brush. Frank Sargeant, al, 8 Oct. 2021 Anyone age 16 years and older must have a current Ohio fishing license to fish. cleveland, 7 Oct. 2021 Today’s cioppino offers a treasure chest of seafood, often including Dungeness crab, mussels, clams, scallops, shrimp, squid and fish. Martha Cheng, WSJ, 7 Oct. 2021 The ways in which the company does this are now so omnipresent as to be subconscious, a fact of culture not worth mentioning, like water to fish. Kyle Chayka, The New Republic, 4 Oct. 2021 War Heroes on Water is expecting to have their biggest fishing tournament to date, with 100 veterans signed up to fish on a fleet of 40 sportfishing yachts and over $1.2 million raised. Caitlin Mcfall, Fox News, 2 Oct. 2021 The bar has 24 beers on tap with a menu of burgers, hot dogs, and fish tacos. Jeremy Hallock, Dallas News, 24 Sep. 2021 Fisheries in the region were once defined by the northern and southern parts of the Bering Sea — with the northern part colder and home to fish such as Arctic cod. Tribune News Service, oregonlive, 15 Aug. 2021 Modern-day adventure seekers can don waders to fish or hike through the swamp, or take a canoe or airboat to access more remote areas of the wilderness. Patrick Connolly,, 19 Sep. 2021

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.

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First Known Use of fish


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


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

History and Etymology for fish

Noun and Verb

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

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Time Traveler for fish

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for fish

Last Updated

14 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for fish



English Language Learners Definition of fish

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a cold-blooded animal that lives in water, breathes with gills, and usually has fins and scales
: the meat of a fish eaten as food



English Language Learners Definition of fish (Entry 2 of 2)

: to catch or try to catch fish
: to catch or try to catch fish in (a river, stream, etc.)
: to search for something by feeling : to use your hand to try to find something


\ ˈfish How to pronounce fish (audio) \
plural fish or fishes

Kids Definition of fish

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : any of a large group of vertebrate animals that live in water, breathe with gills, and usually have fins and scales
2 : an animal that lives in water usually used in combination starfishshellfish

Other Words from fish

fishlike \ -​ˌlīk \ adjective


fished; fishing

Kids Definition of fish (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to catch or try to catch fish
2 : to search for something by or as if by feeling I fished in my purse for change.

More from Merriam-Webster on fish

Nglish: Translation of fish for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fish for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about fish


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