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fish out of water, a

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A person away from his or her usual environment or activities. For example, Using a computer for the first time, Carl felt like a fish out of water, or On a hiking trail, Nell was a fish out of water. This expression alludes to the fact that fish cannot survive for long on dry land. [Late 1300s]

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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

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

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