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 Add some to a small bowl of olive oil for dipping bread, stir into a vinaigrette, or use generously to season chicken and fish. Kim Sunée, Anchorage Daily News, "This rainbow-colored salad is like springtime on a plate," 1 Apr. 2021 The dark-red powdery spice, ground from wild berries, has a citrus taste and is used in salads, on meats and fish, and as a main ingredient in the popular Middle Eastern seasoning za’atar., "He recorded the recipes of his Syrian heritage to keep them alive," 30 Mar. 2021 Most meal bowls begin with a grain such as pasta, rice or quinoa, topped with fresh vegetables, some type of protein (beef, chicken, pork, fish or legumes) and a drizzle of sauce or dressing. Darlene Zimmerman, Detroit Free Press, "Chicken Satay Bowls are a one-stop Asian dish loaded with vitamins and minerals," 27 Mar. 2021 Monday was comfort food; Tuesday was Italian fare; Wednesday was fish or a meatless meal; and so on. Kathy Stephenson, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Amid the pandemic, home cooking is back — and LDS food bloggers are showing the way," 27 Mar. 2021 Another way to make use of them is as a bed for roasted meats or fish. Washington Post, "How to embrace fennel and add its subtle sweetness to your cooking," 26 Mar. 2021 They have been detected in humans, wildlife, fish and in the groundwater, surface water, soil and air. Scott Bauer, Star Tribune, "Pollution concerns lead to bottled water for French Island," 25 Mar. 2021 The most basic menu, though, includes a choice of entree — fish or duck — and a traditional trio of starters with apple-pecan charoset, egg salad and horseradish dip with crudites. Janelle Bitker, San Francisco Chronicle, "10 Bay Area restaurants celebrating Passover, from matzo ball soup to multi-course feasts," 23 Mar. 2021 According to the game and fish department, there are approximately 350 captive Mexican gray wolves in 55 facilities across the U.S. and Mexico. Anton L. Delgado, The Arizona Republic, "Mexican gray wolf population continues to expand, growing by 14% in 2020 survey," 20 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Local fisherman Reda el Sayed was not allowed to fish in his normal spot for three days after traffic came to a halt. Lina El Wardani, CNN, "All hands on deck as Suez locals ply food and wares to growing numbers of hungry, stranded crews," 29 Mar. 2021 In addition to the state’s existing stamp, Illinois lawmakers are working on adding another fee for those who want permission to fish in the state’s rivers and various water holes that would go toward fighting off the spread of invasive Asian carp. Cole Lauterbach, Washington Examiner, "Illinois lawmakers propose additional fishing fee to fight Asian carp," 25 Mar. 2021 Fishing hats are generally made for warm weather, but many anglers fish in cool or even cold conditions. Outdoor Life, "What’s the Best Fishing Hat?," 17 Mar. 2021 Alaska Department of Fish and Game Deputy Commissioner Rachel Baker said the final plan excludes commercial permit holders who fish in Alaska but live in other states that received coronavirus relief. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Stadium supper, dance zones, rethinking oysters: News from around our 50 states," 2 Mar. 2021 Because of its location, Stansbury said St. Mary Parish is one of the few places in Louisiana where someone can fish in fresh water, salt water, brackish or offshore. Amanda Mcelfresh,, "St. Mary Parish ready to welcome visitors to top-notch outdoor activities, museums and local attractions," 31 Jan. 2021 Periodically, the regulatory body reassesses fish stocks in an effort to keep harvest levels sustainable while maximizing opportunities for both recreational and commercial fishermen. Joseph Albanese, Field & Stream, "Stripers Forever Calls for 10-Year Ban on Harvesting Striped Bass," 9 Mar. 2021 Anglers also have the opportunity to fish for bass, catfish, pike, walleye and carp. Jessika Harkay,, "Gov. Lamont signs executive order to open fishing season early," 4 Mar. 2021 My other grandma fought for subsistence rights in Alaska and pioneered a huge legal case around Native people having the rights to fish for themselves. Rebekah Bastian, Forbes, "Trailblazers: Colleen Echohawk, Executive Director Of Chief Seattle Club And Seattle Mayoral Candidate," 2 Mar. 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

5 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Apr. 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.

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Comments on fish

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