English Fish Idioms And Phrases

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  • Post last modified:09/07/2021
  • Post category:English Idioms
  • Reading time:8 mins read

Here you will learn popular English fish idioms and phrases. I will explain how we use the word ‘fish’ and certain expressions to help you express yourselves or to explain something to somebody.

Table of Contents

English fish idioms and phrases

English fish idioms and phrases. Advanced English learning. Advanced English lessons at www.englishlessonviaskype.com #learnenglish #englishlessons

Hi there. This is Harry and welcome back to my English learning podcast Speak Better English where I try to help you to get a better understanding of the English language and help you to improve your conversational English skills.

In this particular podcast episode, we’re going to have a little bit of a change and I’m going to talk about fish. Yes, fish. We find fish in the river, the sea but there’s a little twist to it. I’m going to give you English fish idioms and phrases.

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Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

INSANITY: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

There are lots of different species of fish and when we talk about fish we always use it in the singular form fish.

✔️ We’re going to eat fish.

We’re going to eat fishes.

✔️ We are having fish.

We’re having fishes.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s one or it’s two.

Or indeed it can be a piece of fish or several pieces of fish.

Sometimes we say fishes. For example,

There are many species of fishes.

But usually, ‘fish’ in the singular form.

We use fish in many many parts of the English language.

sounds/smells/seems fishy

Meaning: something isn’t right or we feel something isn’t right or there’s something strange about what we see or what we hear


The newspaper article made it seem as if all the killings were being considered accidents, but that sounds a little fishy to me.

Hmm, that seems fishy to me you haven’t heard from him for ages, I’ll bet he wants to borrow money. 

English fish idioms and phrases

English fish idioms and phrases. Advanced English learning. Advanced English lessons at www.englishlessonviaskype.com #learnenglish #englishlessons

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a red herring

Meaning: a distraction, something that is going to distract you from the real point of view and you’re not going to really understand what’s going on


The government’s idea of building new hospitals is only a red herring. All they’re interested in is increasing the taxes paying for this Covid debt.

packed/squashed like sardines

Meaning: sardines come in a tin and in the tin they’re very packed tightly together so you get lots of sardines but they’re in very close proximity to each other in the tin, so we use this expression to describe a very crowded place where we are very very close together


There were a lot of people standing on the platform waiting to get on the train. When the train eventually took off, we were packed like sardines in a tin, it was impossible to practise social distancing. 

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Meaning: someone who tricks people out of their money using misleading information and false promises


Don’t play poker with him, he’s a real card shark. He sweet talks people but he’s only there to fool you.

to have a whale of a time

Meaning: to have an entertaining, funny, enjoyable and relaxing time


I had a whale of a time at my 50th birthday party. There were many many friends, the champagne was flowing and the celebrations lasted long into the night.

to be as slippery as an eel

Meaning:  someone who cannot be trusted, a trickster


You can never get a straight answer out of him, he’s as slippery as an eel.

English fish idioms and phrases

to leap like a salmon

Meaning: to jump high without difficulties


He leapt like the salmon and the ball went into the goal.



to have hands/arms like an octopus

Meaning: we use this to describe a creep that can not keep his hands off someone


He was like an octopus, I had to slap him on the hand at the end of the party.

So there are my 8 English fish idioms and phrases, let’s repeat them one more time:

  • sounds/smells/seems fishy
  • a red herring
  • packed/squashed like sardines
  • shark
  • to have a whale of a time
  • to be as slippery as an eel
  • to leap like a salmon
  • octopus/ to have hands (arms) like an octopus

Thanks for listening. If you want to contact me, you can do so on www.englishlessonviaskype.com Always happy to hear from you, always happy to include your recommendations. Join me again soon.

More information

For more information on English grammar rules, English collocations and English idioms, check out the links below:

9 English Idioms for Giving Advice and Warning

10 ways to say I don’t know

Don’t forget to check out intermediate and advanced English lessons at Learning English with the BBC.

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