Idioms

Origin of fish

before 900; (noun) Middle English fis(c)h, fyssh, Old English fisc; cognate with Dutch vis, German Fisch, Old Norse fiskr, Gothic fisks; akin to Latin piscis, Irish iasc; (v.) Middle English fishen, Old English fiscian, cognate with Dutch visschen, German fischen, Old Norse fiska, Gothic fiskôn

Related forms

fish·less, adjectivefish·like, adjectiveout·fish, verb (used with object)un·fished, adjective

Can be confused

fiche fish
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for fish or cut bait (1 of 2)

FISH

/ (fɪʃ) /

n acronym for

fluorescence in situ hybridization, a technique for detecting and locating gene mutations and chromosome abnormalities

British Dictionary definitions for fish or cut bait (2 of 2)

fish

/ (fɪʃ) /

noun plural fish or fishes


verb

See also fish out

Derived Forms

fishable, adjectivefishlike, adjective

Word Origin for fish

Old English fisc; related to Old Norse fiskr, Gothic fiscs, Russian piskar, Latin piscis
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Science definitions for fish or cut bait

fish

[ fĭsh ]

Plural fish fishes

Any of numerous cold-blooded vertebrate animals that live in water. Fish have gills for obtaining oxygen, a lateral line for sensing pressure changes in the water, and a vertical tail. Most fish are covered with scales and have limbs in the form of fins. Fish were once classified together as a single group, but are now known to compose numerous evolutionarily distinct classes, including the bony fish, cartilaginous fish, jawless fish, lobe-finned fish, and placoderms.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Culture definitions for fish or cut bait

Fish or cut bait

Make a decision now; stop hesitating. To cut bait is to stop fishing.


The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with fish or cut bait (1 of 2)

fish or cut bait

Either proceed with an activity or abandon it completely. For example, You've been putting off calling him for hours; either fish or cut bait. This expression, often uttered as an imperative, alludes to a fisherman who should either be actively trying to catch fish or cutting up bait for others to use. It was first recorded in the Congressional Record (1876), when Congressman Joseph P. Cannon called for a vote on a bill legalizing the silver dollar: “I want you gentlemen on the other side of the House to ‘fish or cut bait.’” A vulgar synonym from the 1940s is shit or get off the pot.


Idioms and Phrases with fish or cut bait (2 of 2)

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

also see:

  • 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

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.