noun, plural (especially collectively) fish, (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) fish·es.
- a new prison inmate.
- a high school or college freshman; frosh.
verb (used with object)
- to secure (an anchor) by raising the flukes.
- to reinforce (a mast or other spar) by fastening a spar, batten, metal bar, or the like, lengthwise over a weak place.
verb (used without object)
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Idioms for fish
Origin of fish
OTHER WORDS FROM fishfish·less, adjectivefish·like, adjectiveout·fish, verb (used with object)un·fished, adjective
WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH fishfiche, fish .
Words nearby fish
Definition for fish (2 of 2)
ABOUT THIS WORD
What else does fish mean?
Fish, often appearing in the form of fishy or the phrase serving fish, is also slang in drag culture for a very feminine drag queen.
Content warning: this article contains references to sexual and sexist content.
Where does fish come from?
Fish has been recorded as prison slang for new inmates since the 1870s. The term apparently likens new prisoners to fish fresh out of the water. One theory about the slang’s origin claims that inmates were issued uniforms with their inmate numbers stamped with an ink that smelled fishy when wet.
Fish for new inmates shouldn’t be confused with another prison slang term, fishing. This refers to using a string to pass contraband items between cells in a manner similar to casting a fishing line.
Security update. Spot check by prison security staff found this. Did you spot it? Blue in color cable placed over the wall. Drops down into inmate holding area and being used as a 'fishing line' to move contraband. Corrective action taken. #safeprisons pic.twitter.com/islbBC3qfE
— Seychelles Prison Service (@SeychellePrison) October 29, 2018
Fish is also slang in the drag community. Alluding to popular beliefs about female genitalia, fish, here, refers to a drag queen who closely resembles a woman. Referring to a drag queen as fishy, or saying they are serving fish, is considered complimentary within the drag community, but keep in mind that such a description for women and their bodies is generally extremely offensive.
How is fish used in real life?
Both prisoners and prison staff may use fish to belittle new, first-time inmates. It has appeared in popular media, including the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption, as well as in a 2005 episode of the TV show Prison Break, which contains the fan favorite line “Welcome to Prisneyland, fish.”
Once again, in drag culture, fish/fishy/serving fish are taken as compliments, but, elsewhere, likening female genitalia to a fish is offensive.
More examples of fish:
“Walking a dog down the streets of LA is like walking the new fish down a crowded row of prison cells in a movie.”
—@shelbyfero, October 2018
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.
Example sentences from the Web for fish
When Chérif got out of prison, he worked at the fish counter of a supermarket.
Kocurek documented the scene with notes and diagrams, and called the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
A U.S. Fish and Wildlife officer corroborated another account.
A Fish and Wildlife special agent collected the bodies of two birds at the site, a redhead duck and a mourning dove.
Turtles, fish, ospreys and rare freshwater sharks and sawfish thrive there.China’s Nicaragua Canal Could Spark a New Central America Revolution|Nina Lakhani|November 30, 2014|DAILY BEAST
She started to pick busily, while Walter, taking the fish that had been cleaned, began to broil them over the fire.The Motor Girls in the Mountains|Margaret Penrose
Cut the fish into large pieces, and lay part of it on the pork and onions.Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches|Eliza Leslie
It is not a fair way of going to work—the fish has no option.
The best fishing season is from April to October, when the fish come to this bank to feed.Fishing Grounds of the Gulf of Maine|Walter H. Rich
These were not dependent on the vagaries of the wind and steamed wherever their skippers divined that fish might be.The Harbor of Doubt|Frank Williams
British Dictionary definitions for fish (1 of 2)
noun plural fish or fishes
- any of a large group of cold-blooded aquatic vertebrates having jaws, gills, and usually fins and a skin covered in scales: includes the sharks and rays (class Chondrichthyes : cartilaginous fishes) and the teleosts, lungfish, etc (class Osteichthyes : bony fishes)
- (in combination)fishpond Related adjectives: ichthyic, ichthyoid, piscine
Derived forms of fishfishable, adjectivefishlike, adjective
Word Origin for fish
British Dictionary definitions for fish (2 of 2)
n acronym for
Scientific definitions for fish
Plural fish fishes
Idioms and Phrases with fish
In addition to the idioms beginning with fish
- fish for
- fishing expedition
- fish in troubled waters
- fish or cut bait
- fish out
- fish out of water, a
- fish story
- big fish in a small pond
- cold fish
- drink like a fish
- goldfish bowl
- kettle of fish
- like shooting fish in a barrel
- neither fish nor fowl
- not the only fish in the sea
- other fish to fry
- smell fishy