or fresh fish


What does fish mean?


Fish, or fresh fish, is prison slang for new, first-time inmates, usually considered naive and vulnerable.

Examples of fish


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
I delivered pizza to an elementary school once and it was like that scene in a prison movie where the inmates catcall the new fish like "lemme taste that pie boi"
@Sorrow_TV, October 2018
There would be people yelling from the top floor sexual remarks, saying they was going to rape me if they catch me, saying stuff like, "I can't wait to rape the new fish"...
John Doe 3 quoted by Ted Roelofs, Bridge Magazine, April 2015

Where does fish come from?


Fish has been used as prison slang for new inmates dating back to 1872. The term’s origin isn’t exactly clear, but it apparently likens new prisoners to fish fresh out of the water. One theory has claimed 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.

Fish is also slang in the drag community…but it doesn’t imply freshness. Instead, it alludes to the popular belief that vaginas can smell fishy, and it refers to a drag queen who looks so much like a cisgender woman that you can smell fish. 



Who uses fish?

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.”

In drag culture, fish is a compliment, but, elsewhere, likening a person’s vagina to a fish is typically considered offensive.


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