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

Definition of fish

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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 2)

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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun L'Oréal's kids shampoo, the one that looks like a fish. Jihan Forbes, Allure, 20 May 2022 Laila Gohar sometimes sees herself in her dishes — like a champagne jelly of a koi fish stuffed with a rose. New York Times, 13 May 2022 Don’t overpower a delicate fish with a brash sauce and heavy grains. Caron Golden, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 May 2022 So if this is the reality, then how come that Steven had a fish with one fin, too? Adam B. Vary, Variety, 4 May 2022 Just as Bevel’s autobiography retells the story of the novel, the memoir guts the autobiography like a still-wriggling fish. Los Angeles Times, 29 Apr. 2022 Mormonism and Mormon culture is for these characters what water is for a fish — just as unremarkable, and just as essential. Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter, 25 Apr. 2022 Like many fish, anchovies reproduce through spawning, with the females releasing eggs and the males releasing sperm to fertilize them. Zoe Sottile, CNN, 24 Apr. 2022 His wooden boat is naggingly familiar to anyone from northern Europe: high, pinched bow and stern; as slippery as a fish. James Stewart, Robb Report, 23 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb People fish all over the world, and every place has its signature species. Murr Brewster, The Christian Science Monitor, 16 May 2022 The women can no longer fish on this part of the river as the waters have become too shallow, forcing them to dock their rig further along the banks, more than 50 kilometers away. Farai Shawn Matiashe, CNN, 22 Apr. 2022 For largemouths, fish off the edge of the downriver grass flats in 6 to 15 foot depths with crankbaits or lipless lures, or dredge bottom with jigs dressed with soft plastics. Frank Sargeant, al, 3 Dec. 2021 Anyone can fish under all other state regulations without a license or tag. ... Bill Monroe, oregonlive, 11 Feb. 2022 Visitors can fish or go boating on the lake that was formed from the Colorado River. Megan Marples, CNN, 3 Feb. 2022 Indeed, food sovereignty was a cornerstone of 19th-century treaties in which the Ojibwe ceded millions of acres and retained their rights to fish, hunt and gather. Shantal Riley, Washington Post, 12 Jan. 2022 However, a small team trying to fish with alternative nets has faced roadblocks. New York Times, 23 Nov. 2021 For Ryan Hanson of Big Lake, Minn., the ice road paved the way for his first excursion to the Angle to fish with friends and family. Mary Lynn Smith, Star Tribune, 20 Feb. 2021 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.

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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

23 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Fish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for fish


\ 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.

Fish biographical name

\ ˈfish How to pronounce Fish (audio) \

Definition of Fish

Hamilton 1808–1893 American statesman

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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