fish (metaphor)

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by ThomasK, May 25, 2013.

  1. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Grefsen referred to fish in the cash-cow thread. There might well be interesting metaphorical uses of fish. So go ahead...

    bot vangen is to catch/ win nothing (bot is a collection of small fish, I believe) at the negotation table or when one has ambition. Vette vis with us means result (fat fish).
  2. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    I can think of just a few "fish" expressions:
    биться как рыба об лёд /bitsia kak ryba ob liod/ - thrash like a fish against the ice (desperately/unsuccessfully try to find a solution in a hopeless situation)
    молчать как рыба /moltchat' kak ryba/ -to be silent like a fish
    People "megred" the two and came up with молчать как рыба об лёд /moltchat' kak ryba ob liod/ - be silent ike a fish [thrashing] on the ice (be really, stoically silent)

    ни рыба ни мясо /ni ryba ni miaso/ - not fish not meat (something that is so-so, average)
  3. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    Hi TK,

    In Greek the formal name of fish is «ιχθύς» [ix'θis] (masc.) < Classical masc. noun «ἰχθῦς» ĭkʰtʰûs --> fish (PIE *dǵʰuh-, fish cf Arm. ձուկ (jukn), fish; Lith. žuvis, fish; Lat. zuvs, fish).
    In the vernacular though we use «ψάρι» ['psari] (neut.) < Byz. neut. diminutive «ὀψάριον» opsárion --> fish < Classical neut. noun «ὄψον» ópsŏn --> side dish; in Hellenistic age, the name «ὄψον» becomes synonymous with the fish-dish (PIE *h₁op-s-, side-food cf Lat. opsōnium, anything eaten with bread to give it relish, especially fish).
    The metaphorical use of «ἰχθῦς» for Jesus Christ by the early Christians, during their persecution by the Roman Empire in the first few centuries of Christendom, is well established and known. It was used as an acronym for «Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς, Θεοῦ Υἱὸς, Σωτὴρ» (Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour).
    We use «ψάρι» in a couple of proverbs:
    - «Το ψάρι βρωμάει απ'το κεφάλι» [to 'psari vro'ma.i apto ce'fali] --> A fish rots from the head down (Eng: the rot starts at the top)
    - «Ψήνω το ψάρι στα χείλη του/της» ['psino to 'psari sta 'çili tu (masc.)/tis (fem.)] --> To cook a fish on his/her lips (Eng: to bend someone's ear).
    «Ψάρι» metaphorically is the naive person who has innocent view of the world.
    In army slang, the new recruit is a «ψάρακας» ['psarakas] (masc.), augmentative of «ψάρι» (i.e. big fish)
    Last edited: May 25, 2013
  4. DearPrudence

    DearPrudence Dépêche Mod (AL mod)

    French (lower Normandy)
    There are a few expressions with the word "poison" (fish):

    être comme un poisson dans l'eau (literally: to be like a fish in water) : to be in your element
    noyer le poisson
    (literally: to drown the fish) : to confuse the issue
    faire une queue de poisson à qqn
    (literally: to do a fishtail to sb) : to cut sb up
    finir en queue de poisson
    (literally: to finish in a fishtail) : ~to fizzle out
    engueuler qqn comme du poisson pourri
    (literally: to bawl sb out like rotten fish) : to bawl sb out

    petit poisson deviendra grand(literally: little fish will grow) : tall oaks from little acorns grow

    n'être ni chair ni poisson
    (literally: to be neither flesh nor fish) : [I must admit I didn't know this expression & can't see a translation]

    un gros poisson : a big fish
    du menu fretin : small fry

    And there are more expressions with different sorts of fish like
    un thon (colloquial) (literally: a tuna) = an ugly woman
    il y a anguille sous rouche
    (literally: there is an eel under the rock) : there is something fish going on
    (a few examples here)
  5. aruniyan Senior Member


    - Fish, The stars are also called by the same word.

    kayal vizhi = kayal like eyes. (beautiful fish like eyes), Kayal is a type of fresh water fish.
    Vilaangu = Slippery Eel. A type of person who could escape from others easily.
    Thimingilam(whale) = Big shot.

    kaluvura meenla naluvura meen (among the cleaning fishes, the escaping fish) tactically escaping capabilities.

    siriya meenai pottu periya meenai pidi (putting a small fish and catching a larger fish) way of gaining higher profits by investing only smaller

    meen kunchikku neenthavaa katrukodukka vendum( do we need to teach swimming to a recently hatched(young) fish)

    Kalangiya kuttaiyil meen pidippathu (mix the pond well and to catch the fish) (try to get advantage in an already disturbed place)
  6. Grefsen

    Grefsen Senior Member

    Southern California
    English - United States
    Tusen takk! (1,000 thanks!)


    frisk som ein fisk - healthy as a fish

    Only someone who is healthy and very flexible would be capable of moving like a wriggling fish (frisk also rhymes with fisk).

    To explain a little more what the meaning of this expression is in (AE), when there has been a failure within an organization it is usually the leadership (someone at the top) that is ultimately responsible for the problem.

    Here are a few more "fish" metaphors used in (AE):

    "There are plenty of other fish in the sea" - if it doesn't work out with one potential mate there are still many more available.

    "Like a fish out of water" - someone who is uncomfortable in a particular situation.

    "A big fish in a small pond" - one of the most important people in a small group or organization, who would have much less power and importance if they were part of a larger group or organization.
    Last edited: May 26, 2013
  7. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)

    být/cítit se jako ryba ve vodě = to be/to feel like a fish in water (to feel comfortable, in one's own element);

    být/cítit se jako ryba na suchu = to be/to feel like a fish on dry land (to feel uncomfortable);

    mlčet jako ryba = to be/to remain silent like a fish (to shut up like a clam);

    zdravý jako ryba/rybička = healthy as a fish;

    není ani ryba ani rak = he is neither fish nor crayfish (= neither fish nor fowl);
    Last edited: May 29, 2013
  8. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    We have that too, «σαν το ψάρι έξω απ'το νερό» [san do 'psari 'ekso apto ne'ro]
    lit. "(to feel is omitted) like a fish out of water"
    That's the meaning in Greek too, but it also means to convey corruption, as a connotation
  9. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    Ryba páchne od hlavy. = A fish stinks from the head.

    We use this proverb (beside "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark") usually in connection with corruption and our politicians.
  10. oveka Senior Member

    Ukraine, Ukrainian
    Ні риби ні м'ясо= not fish not meat
    Б’ється як риба об лід = thrash like a fish against the ice
    Б’ється як риба в ятері = thrash like a fish in the ...
    Кидається (б’ється) як риба на сухому (суходолі) = thrash like a fishon dry
    Суддя в суді — як риба в воді = Judge in a court — close as an oyster in water
    Мовчить як риба = to be silent like a fish
    Риба шукає, де глибше, а чоловік — де ліпше = Fish searches, where deeper, and man — where the best
    Чий берег, того й риба = Whose bank, that and fish
    Перша риба не ловиться = The first fish is not caught
    Німий як риба = to be silent like a fish
    Риба не хліб, ситий не будеш = Fish is not bread, replete will not be
    Як риба в воді = Close as an oyster in water
    Найкраща риба – линина, а м’ясо – свинина = The best fish is ???, and meat is pork
    Риба гниє з голови = A fish stinks from the head
  11. djmc Senior Member

    English - United Kingdom
    n'être ni chair ni poisson
    (literally: to be neither flesh nor fish) : [I must admit I didn't know this expression & can't see a translation]
    In England this would be
    Neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring
    i.e. neither one thing or another
  12. Grefsen

    Grefsen Senior Member

    Southern California
    English - United States
  13. Maroseika Moderator


    Fish - situation in dominoes, when the game is blocked because neither player can play.
    Fish - draft, model document.
    Fish - flegmatic person.
    Fish looks for where it's dipper, a man - where it's better.
  14. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I am quite surprised at these meanings in Russian!

    Some from Dutch, inspired by what I have just read:
    - vlees noch vis: neither meat nor fish (not knowing what someone or something can offer us, I'd say)
    - als een vis in het water
    - als een vis op het droge ("on dry land") - not so common, I think...
  15. ilocas2 Senior Member

    Kdyby byly ryby v prdeli, nebyly by rybníky. - If fish were in ass, there wouldn't be ponds.

    The meaning of this saying it's like English If my aunt had balls, she'd be my uncle.

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