Green’s Dictionary of Slang

fish n.1

[fig. uses of SE fish]

1. pertaining to sex [sense 1a is derog. ref. to the supposed odour; senses 1b–i are ext. uses].

(a) the vagina.

[UK]J. Heywood Proverbs II Ch. iiii: Olde fish and young flesh (quoth he) doth men best feede.
[UK]Gesta Grayorum (1688) 25: All such Persons as shall put or cast into any [...] Pits, Pools, [...] or River, salt or fresh; the same Fish being then of insufficiency in Age and Quantity.
[UK]Shakespeare Antony and Cleopatra II v: ’Twas merry when You wager’d on your angling; when your diver Did hang a salt-fish on his hook which he With fervency drew up.
[[UK]‘P.R.’ Whores Dialogue 2: It put us into such a Pocky fear, we begun all of us to smell like fish of three days catching].
[UK]J. Ray Proverbs (2nd edn) 81: No man ever cryed stinking fish.
‘The Martin and the Oyster or the Alsatia Amour’ in 18C Collections Online n.p.: Thus out Alsatia Martin blends / His S---d with Fish and Flesh.
[UK]E. Thompson Meretriciad 26: The coronation causes want of fish, / And flesh, nay ev’ry common dish.
[UK]‘Earl of Funsborough’ Covent Garden Jester 4: ‘We have toiled all night, and have caught no fish.’ The congregation looked at each other, some smiled, others stopped their mouths with their handkerchiefs, to prevent them from laughing.
[UK]‘Bumper Allnight. Esquire’ Honest Fellow 9: And whilst his Homunculus throbs, / She asks — What’s the price now of fish?
[UK]Sam Sly 24 Mar. 3/1: SAM wishes to know if Jim A—n [...] the policeman, is fond of fish, and which way he prefers it dressed.
[UK] ‘Paddy Miles and the Mermaid’ in Rakish Rhymer (1917) 14: She was only a female just down to her belly, / And what should have been mutton was nothing but fish!
[UK]Cremorne I 28: This fresh bit of fish made Jacko rise again.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[US]‘Big Bill’ Broonzy ‘Down in the Alley’ [lyrics] If you wanna somethin’, smell like fish / Down in the alley you can find that dish [...] So take me down in the alley if you wanna satisfy me.
[US]C. Himes Pinktoes (1989) 161: Oh, Reverend Riddick [...] Would you care for some of my fish? [...] I like a man who loves fish [...] If a man loves fish, he’s dependable.
[US]H. Selby Jr Requiem for a Dream (1987) 10: I like to knosh. A little chopped liver, a little smoked fish. [Ibid.] 36: Go ahead [...] stick ya nose up her drawers. Whats the matta, donta ya like fish?
[US]Bill Hicks [performance] Wouldn’t [you] love to see those two little hairless peach fishes locked in a sixty-nine?
[US]College Sl. Research Project (Cal. State Poly. Uni., Pomona) [Internet] Fish (noun) A female’s vaginal area.

(b) a woman.

[UK]Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet I i: ’Tis know I am a pretty piece of flesh. — ’Tis well thou art not fish.
[UK]N. Ward Wandring Spy 10: The fairest Ladies smell most fishy: If so, then who would not by marrying, Enjoy Fish, Flesh and good Red-Herring.
[US]E.E. Landy Underground Dict. (1972) 78: fish 1. female.
[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. [Internet] Fish. Female genitalia but sometimes generalised to the female gender.

(c) (US gay) a heterosexual woman, sometimes derog.

[US] in J.F. Dobie Coffee in the Gourd 47: When you go fishin’, you tryin’ to flirt, / The fish you is fishin’ for got on a skirt [HDAS].
[US]‘R. Scully’ Scarlet Pansy 150: Here one heard fruit, banana, meat, fish, tomato, cream, dozens of everyday words used with double meaning.
[US]‘Swasarnt Nerf’ et al. Gay Girl’s Guide 9: fish A woman (usually excluding Lesbians). [Ibid.] 64: [He] therefore can’t return anyone else’s love [...] even [that] of an exotic and understanding fish.
[US]D.W. Cory Homosexual in America 106: The homosexual, in inner-group language, is likely to call a heterosexual girl a fish.
[US]J. Rechy City of Night 110: The hostess says Im the most beautiful fish she evuh seen.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 81: fish [...] 2. a straight woman; any woman ‘I can’t talk to a fish unless I think it’s a boy in drag’.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 151: Women are not only characterized as land animals but as fish – trout, fish, tuna fish.
Online Sl. Dict. [Internet] fish n 1. a gay male’s best female friend.
[SA]K. Cage Gayle.

(d) a prostitute; a promiscuous woman.

[US] ‘Hotel Sl.’ in AS XIV:3 Oct. 239/2: fish Prostitute. [...] fish business Pandering.
[US] in E. Cray Erotic Muse (1992) 139: She ran along Fish Alley, / Looked in a window so high, / Saw her lovin’ Johnny / Finger-fucking Alice Bly.
[US]E. Gilbert Vice Trap 116: When I think of all the things I did, in the back seats of jalopies. What a fish I was, Nicky. What a reputation I built up.
[US]Trimble 5000 Adult Sex Words and Phrases.
[US]Maledicta IX 148: The compilers ought to have looked farther afield and found: […] fish.

(e) (US gay) one who masturbates while performing oral intercourse.

[US] (ref. to 1930s–40s) B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 81: fish [...] 5. (fr pros sl, ’30s-’40s) man who ‘muff dives’ while playing with himself.

(f) (US gay) an effeminate male homosexual.

[US]‘R. Scully’ Scarlet Pansy 262: Miss Browning [...] broke forth gain – ‘Once I thought I had a real he-man. I found out he was fish. It makes me sick to think of him.’.
[US](con. 1944) J.H. Burns Gallery (1948) 151: So I told this Nellie to go peddle her fish somewhere else.
[WI]Jamaica Obs. 19 May [Internet] Three male friends and I went to a restaurant [...] the waiter (male) refused to serve us because ‘him nah serve no fish’.

(g) sexual intercourse.

[US]E. Hunter ‘. . . Or Leave It Alone’ in Jungle Kids (1967) 62: She was dead from the neck down when it came to fish.

(h) (US) a feminine lesbian.

[US]‘R. Scully’ Scarlet Pansy 150: Here one heard fruit, banana, meat, fish, tomato, cream, dozens of everyday words used with double meaning.
A. Karlen Sexuality and Homosexuality 546: The typical [...] butch [...] denied she had ever been a fish (femme).

(i) (US gay) semen.

[US] in T.I. Rubin Sweet Daddy 110: Sometimes you push the fish right up to the bulls eye.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 81: fish 4. (pros sl) semen, [...] ‘Don’t you even have the decency to wash the fish out before you take me on?’.

(j) a trans gender woman who passes satisfactorily for a cis gender woman.

www.reddit.com/r/SRSDiscussion/comments/371azf/gay_slang_and_gender_slurs/ [Internet] If a trans gender woman passes well for a cis gender woman [...] you might say she’s ‘fish’ (referring to the smell of a woman's vagina!) or ‘pussy’.

2. as money or a monetary token.

(a) a gambling chip.

[UK]Vanbrugh & Cibber Provoked Husband I i: I am now going to a party at Quadrille, only to piddle with a little of it [i.e. money], at poor two guineas a fish.
E. Heywood Betsy Thoughtless I 230: She was just going to call for the cards and fishes.
Anstey Bath Guide viii 90: Industrious Creatures! that make it a Rule To secure half the Fish, while they manage the Pool.
[UK]Sporting Mag. XLVII 297: A notorious gamester [...] at a game of loo, accumulated a large quantity of fish.
W. Hone Everyday Bk I 91: Mother-o’-pearl fish and counters.
[US]J. O’Connor Wanderings of a Vagabond 356: He took with his thumb and finger [...] a half eagle, which he tossed on the table with the utmost sang froid, at the same time crying out, ‘Here, Robbins, give us fish for this.’.

(b) (US) a dollar.

implied in white fish under white adj.
[US]Van Loan ‘IOU’ in Score by Innings (2004) 347: Believe me or not, it wasn’t the seventy-five fish that hurt.
[US]H.C. Witwer Classics in Sl. 19: My terms is five hundred fish—win, lose or draw.
[US]R. Sale ‘A Nose for News’ in Goulart (1967) 202: They promoted me to his forty fish a week.
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Coffin for a Coward’ in Hollywood Detective Dec. [Internet] It isn’t every night in the week a guy can pick up two hundred fish for doing nothing.
[US]R. Prather Scrambled Yeggs 8: Even at fifteen-to-one it adds up to a lot of fish.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 799: fish – Paper money.

(c) a pound sterling [may exist only in the works of P.G. Wodehouse, living in the US and using its sl., but usu. in a UK context].

[UK]Wodehouse Mating Season 116: He wished to see an additional ten fish in his pay envelope from now on.

3. a sailor; thus scaly fish, a rough, blunt sailor.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Fish, a seaman. A scaly fish; a rough, blunt tar.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.

4. an individual, usu. male and often disliked.

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn).
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[Aus] (?) H. Lawson ‘On the Tucker Track’ in Roderick (1972) 228: With a sickly looking fish like you to stand by and look interesting and die slowly of consumption all the time.
[US]M.E. Smith Adventures of a Boomer Op. 22: Any woman that would ever take to that fish, would either be doing one of three things.
[US]J. Weidman What’s In It For Me 143: This Armenian... sounded like some new kind of fish.
[US]C. Cooper Jr Scene (1996) 130: She could be very valuable when we drag that fish into court.
[US]L. Bangs in Psychotic Reactions (1988) 154: Our beneficient publisher hauled me into his office to answer this fish’s edition of the perennial: ‘Where is rock going?’.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar. 3: fish – a weak or unlikeable male.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 31: Krugman, Tucker, Heineke, Huff, Disbrow, Doherty – older fish to throw the D.A.’s Office.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr. 4: fish – loser, socially inept person.

5. as sense 4, qualified by a descriptive adj., see also combs. below.

[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 11 Apr. 3/2: The Blaxlands are great fish, and J Ps. to boot, and it is to be presumed this must suffice as a reason why they are allowed to go scathless.
[UK]C. Kingsley Two Years Ago I 198: ‘Cool fish,’ thought the customer.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]C. Hindley Life and Adventures of a Cheap Jack 56: Joe Poole, or Lushy Joe Poole, as he was generally called, was a strange fish.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 27 Dec. 12/4: The Melbourne girls, at any rate, are chuckling at the tide in the Federal affairs that brings such pretty fish to their Social basket.
[US]A. Adams Log Of A Cowboy 257: My, but you fellows are easy fish!
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 14 Nov. 44/2: Booth’s brigade lost a rare fish when it let Beasley slip through its fingers.
[UK]Marvel 28 Aug. 5: You’m de funniest old fish I hab come across for a long time!
[US]N. Putnam West Broadway 18: That poor fish Al Goldringer wanted me to move out where I could watch the pansies grow.
[US]Dos Passos Manhattan Transfer 134: Strange fish, Jimmy, strange fish.
[US]C. Coe Me – Gangster 205: You talk like a sweaty fish!
[UK]R.T. Hopkins Life and Death at the Old Bailey 227: He was looked upon as a ‘strange fish’.
[UK]A. Christie Murder in the Mews (1954) 40: Bit of a stuffed fish [...] And a boiled owl.
[US]P. Thomas Down These Mean Streets (1970) 223: There was a set, a jump, going on—a few cats and broads, low lights, and a smooth fish playing.

6. as a novice, i.e. a fresh fish.

(a) (US) any form of novice or fool, esp. a gullible innocent; the potential victim of a confidence trick [note Greene, The Blacke Bookes Messenger (1592): ‘He that drawes the fish to the bait, the Beater’].

[[UK]Greene Blacke Bookes Messenger n.p.: He that drawes the fish to the bait, the Beater].
[UK]Defoe Col. Jack (1840) 116: The subtle devil [...] found us proper fish for her hook.
[UK]Foote Englishman in Paris in Works (1799) I 42: The fish [i.e. a rich young fool] is hook’d].
[UK]Thackeray Pendennis I 57: ‘Ye’ve hooked ’um any how,’ said the Captain, ‘and let me tell ye he’s not a bad fish.’.
in Dwyer & Lingenfelter Songs of the Gold Rush 189: But they like many another fish / Have now run out their line.
[US]G. Devol Forty Years a Gambler 90: We noticed that most of the fish were suckers, and did not bite so well at roulette.
[US]S. Crane Red Badge of Courage (1964) 20: They persistently yelled, ‘Fresh fish!’ at him.
[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 204: Oh, hell! don’t talk like a fish!
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘Within Their Incomes’ Sporting Times 9 Jan. 1/2: Keen on landing such a likely sort of fish, / She had talked as if she rolled in £ s. d.
[UK]P. Marks Plastic Age 52: You make me feel like a fish. Why, I’m just from a country high school. I’m not in your class.
[US]W.R. Burnett Little Caesar (1932) 127: Willoughby’s just one of Olga’s fish. He’s gonna back her in a big show.
[UK]K. Mackenzie Living Rough 110: ‘Did you ever get a sucker?’ I enquired. ‘There ain’t so many fish running around now. I got one mug a couple of months ago.’.
[US]W. Brown Monkey On My Back (1954) 79: ‘You knew what that meant?’ ‘Of course I did. I’m no fish.’.
[US]W. Brown Teen-Age Mafia 7: These fish would wet themselves and go running home to mamma.
[US]K. Marlowe Mr Madam (1967) 63: I’d caught a fish.
[US]E. Bunker Animal Factory 22: Some guards had been around too long for such things, but this one was a fish and it would be easy.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 46: Trick, fish, sucker, chump, and square carry with them a contemptuous and condescending attitude.
[US]T. Wolfe Bonfire of the Vanities 181: Pretty soon they would be looking for a fish.
[US](con. 1973) C. Stella Johnny Porno 31: He had a fish on the line, some young kid [...] looking to deal nickel bags.

(b) (US campus) a freshman.

[US]U. of Tenn. Volunteer 159: I reckon one blip apiece will do fur the kid, if he’ll promise to help on the other ‘fish’ [HDAS].
[US]E.H. Babbitt ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:i 35: fish, n. A freshman.
F. Eikel ‘Aggie Vocab. of Sl.’ in AS XXI:1 33: Fish, n. A freshman .
[US]Current Sl. III–IV (Cumulation Issue).

(c) (Can./US prison) a new inmate; thus prison jargon fish number, the number issued to each prisoner by the US Department of Corrections; fish gallery, fish row, a segregated area of the prison where new inmates are housed [abbr. fresh fish under fresh adj.2 ].

[UK]D. Lowrie My Life in Prison 39: The new arrival, or ‘fish’, is always an object of interest.
[US]R.J. Tasker Grimhaven 14: It must be the name for new-comers. Fish!
[US]D. Lamson We Who Are About to Die 230: Having spotted a possible recruit, preferably among the ‘fish’ or newly arrived prisoners, the gang leaders go to work.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 10: Word buzzed through the grapevine about the new ‘fish’.
[US]‘Blackie’ Audett Rap Sheet 101: I acted like I was a new fish that just arrived inside and was afraid of his own shadow.
[US]M. Braly Felony Tank (1962) 16: Al came heavily down the stairs, back from locking the fish up.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 799: fish gallery – Prison gallery in cellhouse where newly arrived prisoners are housed or celled.
[US](con. 1920s) J. Brown Monkey Off My Back (1972) 39: Three weeks spent in the ‘Fish Gallery’.
[US]W. Burk Thief 339: I was on fish row at Folsom.
[Can]R. Caron Go-Boy! 20: A fish is a newcomer and a target for ridicule by the hardliners in the prison population.
[US]E. Bunker Little Boy Blue (1995) 232: Run these fish down to the mess hall.
[US]Cardozo-Freeman & Deloreme Joint n.p.: The ‘keeper’ does not prepare the fish ahead of time for the ordeal that awaits them in the tank . . . new fish who do not learn immediately how to swim will undergo a devastating initiation rite [R].
[US]E. Bunker Mr Blue 132: About two dozen riding the prison train, the weekly catch of fish en route to California’s three prisons.
[UK]Guardian Editor 28 May 20: Fish: A new inmate.
[UK]J. Baker Chinese Girl (2001) 121: He has seen the crucifixion of a young Pakistani during the first month of his sentence, while he was still a fish.

(d) (US Und.) a prostitute’s customer.

[US]Murtagh & Harris Cast the First Stone 21: The pimps, having kissed their girls goodnight and sent them off to ‘get some fish,’ come in to do some early drinking.

(e) (US campus) a socially inexperienced boy.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Nov. 2: fish – socially unpopular male. Jane’s blind date last night was such a fish.

(f) a virgin or someone who has not even been kissed.

Online Sl. Dict. [Internet] fish n [...] 2. a person who has not had their first kiss or has never French kissed. Origin: a middle-school term used in the southern United States. (‘Can you believe that she is a fish? Yeah, she’s never Frenched a guy!’).

7. (US) a heavy drinker, one who drinks like a fish.

Z. Grey Light of the Western Stars 102: Why, Danny was a fish fer red liquor.
[UK]‘William Juniper’ True Drunkard’s Delight 233: A term for a drunkard [...] fish.
[US]Current Sl. III–IV (Cumulation Issue).
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Oct. 4: fish – one who is able to consume massive amounts of alcohol.

8. (US) an obsessive, an enthusiast.

[US]B. Hecht A Thousand and One Afternoons [ebook] I could see that she was not only the kind of fish that lose their heads at auctions, but the terrible kind that believe everything the auctioneer says.

9. (US) a Roman Catholic [the Catholic tradition of abstaining from meat on Fridays].

[US]L.W. Merryweather ‘Argot of an Orphans’ Home’ in AS VII:6 401: fish, n. A Roman Catholic.

10. (US) a derog. term for a Newfoundlander [the staple industry].

[US]M. Cherry On High Steel xiv: Evenings with the Fish (a not wholly complimentary term for men from Newfoundland).

11. a very unpopular person.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar. 3: fish – an unlikeable person: He’s such a fish – nobody can stand him.
OnLine Dict. of Playground Sl. [Internet] fish n. derog. A surrealist derogatory name for an excessively stupid or unpleasant person.

In derivatives

fishy (adj.)

smelling of (recent) sexual intercourse.

[UK]‘Experiences of a Cunt Philosopher’ in Randiana 72: ‘If ever there was a maidenhead cooked its been bone [sic] in this room [...] Why, even the staircase smells fishy’.

Pertaining to prison

In compounds

fish-bowl (n.)

see separate entry.

fish line (n.) (US prison)

1. a bus that brings in new inmates.

[US]M. Braly On the Yard (2002) 219: When he came in on the fish line this morning I was walking the yard with a guy who knew him in Tracy.
[US]N. Heard House of Slammers 14: Sister, did you see the fish line today? [...] They brought back my ex-old man, honey.

2. a line used to pull items from one cell to another.

[US]Other Side of the Wall: Prisoner’s Dict. July [Internet] Fish Line: A line used to pull items from one cell to another.
fish queen (n.)

see separate entry.

fish roll (n.)

(US prison) the clothing and other necessities issued to a new inmate.

[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 167: Joe [...] was issued his fish roll: blue work shirt, denim pants, brogan shoes, socks, underwear, toothbrush and sack of state tobacco.

In phrases

new fish (n.)

(US prison) a new inmate.

[UK]D. Lowrie My Life in Prison 47: Dey tries ev’ry new fish dey gets in dere – tries him th’ first night an’ sentences him t’ carry th’ bucket f’r a month.
[US]L.L. Stanley Men at Their Worst 187: One of our greatest problems in prison is that of keeping the ‘fish’ from the ‘wolves,’ or the young prisoners from the influence of the hardened criminals. (...) A glimpse into the Old Men’s Ward should convince the ‘new fish’ that crime pays poor dividends.
[US]T. Runyon In For Life 67: He was chock-full of good advice for new fish.
[US]A. James America’s Homosexual Underground 159: Well if it ain’t doll face, that beautiful new fish.
[US]N. Cassady First Third 67: As a new ‘fish’ I was in for a time of it anyhow.
[US]N. Heard House of Slammers 2: Only the new ‘fish’ and the irregular visitors were disconcerted.
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 26: Fishalso Fish Number An inmate new to a particular corrections system in any given state. […] (Archaic: new fish).

Pertaining to female sexuality

In derivatives

fishy (adj.)

pertaining to the vagina (during or after intercourse).

[UK]Randiana 72: If ever there was a maidenhead cooked its been done in this room since I’ve been out. Why, even the staircase smells fishy.

In compounds

fishcunt (n.)

a general term of abuse, aimed at a female.

[UK]N. Barlay Curvy Lovebox 45: fishcunts. Bitches.
[UK]J. Fagan Panopticon (2013) 217: Shut it, Shortie, ya fishy cunt.
fish dinner (n.)

(US gay) sexual intercourse with a woman; thus a woman.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 81: fish-dinner 1. sex with a woman 2. any female.
[US]‘Jennifer Blowdryer’ Modern English 72: fish dinner (v): Eating cunt.
fish fillet (n.)

(US) the vagina (in the content of lesbian sex).

M. De Leon Once Upon a Family Tree 74: ‘I thought Cari was strictly dickly.’ ‘Girl, the way she’s been dogged out by Yolie’s father, it’s no wonder she done turned to fish fillet’.
fish fingers (n.) [play on SE]

(UK juv.) a general insult, implying that someone has placed his finger(s) in a woman’s vagina and then failed to wash them, so his fingers supposedly smell of fish.

OnLine Dict. of Playground Sl. [Internet] fish fingers adj. name given to person who incessantly ‘fingers’ girls but neglects to wash the boiled anchovy smell off his hands afterwards.
[Aus] www.thepantsman.com [Internet] Word had already spread wide and fast about the fish-finger manoeuvre.
fishmonger (n.)

1. a womanizer, a promiscuous man.

[UK]Shakespeare Hamlet II ii: pol.: Do you know me, my lord? ham.: Excellent well; you are a fishmonger. pol.: Not I, my lord.
B. Riche Irish Hubbub 25: Him they call Senex Fornmicator, an old Fishmonger, that many years since ingrost the French pox.

2. a madame, a bawd.

[UK]Mercurius Democritus 5 27 Apr.–5 May 36: The Fishmongers in Thames-Street [...] doubt they shall not have a Maid left for them to trade with, and so by that meanes their Cod is like to lye upon their hands as a dead Commodity.
fishmonger’s daughter (n.)

a prostitute.

[US]Maledicta IX 148: The compilers ought to have looked farther afield and found: […] fishmonger’s daughter.
fishpond (n.)

the vagina.

[UK]Dekker Honest Whore Pt 1 I ii: I had not saild a league in that great fishpond but I cast vp my very gall .
[UK]E. Sharpham Cupid’s Whirligig II i: A horson otter, ile teach him fish in other mens ponds.
[UK]H. Nevile Newes from the New Exchange 5: He that meanes to board her, must put off his doublet and swim, it being of the same size with a Fish-Pond.
[UK] ‘Jenny’s Answer to Sawney’ in Ebsworth Roxburghe Ballads (1893) VII:1 15: Guid faith! I’se keep close my two-leav’d Book, I’se will not trust him to gang between; / Lest my Fish-pond is spoil’d with his hook, because he hath ligged with a London Quean.
Shirley Compleat Courtier 25: [My] little Fish-pond, Where you may angle with your muckle wand.
[UK] ‘Hampshire Miller’ in Pepys Ballads (1987) III 13: [She] was in a rage Because her husband he did Gage The Sluts Fish pond, that runs so clear.
[UK]Bridges Homer Travestie (1764) I 175: That men may cease to do amiss, / And not in other fish ponds fish.
[Gentleman’s Garland n.p: Fishing in the Pond It is all my Delight. Fish you to the Bottom, And I’m sure you’ll Fish right].
[UK]A. Cairene Sixfold Sensuality 43: The Earl having had his bait swallowed in his wife’s fishpond.
fish queen

see separate entries.

fish supper (n.)

sexual intercourse, esp. in the context of a conjugal right.

[UK]Roger’s Profanisaurus in Viz 87 Dec. n.p.: fish supper euph. chauvinistic Carnival knowledge (qv) to which, by rights, a husband is entitled at the end of the day. See also get up them stairs.

In phrases

eat (the) fish (v.) (also chew (the) fish)

(US) to perform cunnilingus.

[US]C. Himes Pinktoes (1989) 172: I don’t want Mamie to catch me eating fish in her bed.
go fish (v.) (gay)

1. for an effeminate gay man to take the ‘feminine’, passive role during sex.

[US]G. Legman ‘Lang. of Homosexuality’ Appendix VII in Henry Sex Variants.

2. of a male homosexual or lesbian, to give cunnilingus.

[US]K. Worthy Homosexual Generation Ch. xvi: A fish: A male homosexual who has a mouth homosexual relations with a female homosexual.
R. Trouche Go Fish [film title].

3. (US gay) to become coy or flirtatious, i.e. to react like a teenage girl.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 81: fish 7. (adj) limp, heady, drooping, giddy [...] Verb forms to be [go] fish = to become coy, fluttery; to react to a situation as would an average teenager.
go fishing (v.)

to go out looking for a sexually obliging woman; also in gay use, to seek a sexual partner.

J. Jackman ‘Ports O Call’ in Fag Rag (Boston) Spring No. 19 in Jay & Young (1979) 152: I didn’t have to join the camping competitions or go ‘fishing’.
[US]D. Lypchuk ‘A dirty little story’ in eye mag. 8 July [Internet] They were both happy until she discovered that he was just on a fishing expedition and had been bragging about cracking Judy’s teacup to his friends.

General uses

In compounds

fish-sticks (n.)

(US black) money.

[US]Ebonics Primer at www.dolemite.com [Internet] fishsticks Definition: money. Example: That Ho has a nice ass, but she’ll cost you alot of fishsticks!

In phrases

big fish (n.) (US)

1. an important, powerful person;also attrib.

[US]H.R. Howard Hist. of Virgil A. Stewart 139: He is a big fish— anything he says will be believed [DA].
[US]C.H. Smith Bill Arp 174: That’s the doctrine, the nigger may be a big fish, but the white man is a whale.
[UK]Sheffield Indep. 29 Oct. 3/2: He is, indeeed, a big fish for a political net.
[US]J.D. Corrothers Black Cat Club 64: So many uv ouh girls is a-lookin foh de big fish wid de gol’en gills; but de big fish don’t allus bite. An so we’s gittin’ a lot o’ crabbed, disapp’inted ole maids.
[UK]F.D. Sharpe Sharpe of the Flying Squad 14: Biggest fish in the pond are the sharepushers, confidence men, and the expert jewel thieves.
[UK]J. Cary Horse’s Mouth (1948) 108: I’m one of the big fish [...] Because my stuff’s the real stuff.
[UK]N. Fitzgerald Candles Are All Out 34: You and I may be pretty big fish in Invermore.
[UK]G.F. Newman Sir, You Bastard 108: Newnes was a big fish.
[US](con. 1960s) D. Goines Black Gangster (1991) 116: [They] had just about given up hope of finding one of the big fish.
[SA]P. Hotz Muzukuru 89: I can’t understand why the big fish wants us to waste our time on you.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 10 July 5: As attorney, his notoriety for ruthless prosecution of big-fish targets grew.
[US]‘Jack Tunney’ Split Decision [ebook] I got a lot of guys noticing me. Big time guys. Bigger fish than Cardone. He’s a freakin’ sardine next to the guys got my back.

2. an important event, undertaking etc.

J. Hay letter 30 June in Dennett Lincoln and the Civil War (1939) 198: I wish you to be there when they meet. It is a big fish. Mr Chase has resigned.
[US]Gleason & Taber Is Zat So? I i: He made a grand showing in the soldier bouts in France, though, so when we come back we starts to lookin’ for big fish.
drop a tail of green fish (v.)

to defecate.

[UK]Mercurius Fumigosus 26 22-30 Nov. 2: The eldest sister who had [...] drop’d a tail of Green-fish in the Chimney-corner.
little fish (n.) [reverse of big fish ]

(US) an unimportant person.

‘Transcript of a recording of a meeting between the President and John Ehrlichman’ 15 Apr. [Internet] ehrlichman: There was, there was a cover story which Mardian and others cooked up, and, uh, Porter, corroborated the cover story, is now indictable for perjury. He’s a little fish who got caught in the net.
‘Rev. of Mr Deeds’ PopcornMonsters.com [Internet] This is his first time away from his small town and now he’s a little fish in a big pond and plus the fact that he doesn’t know what to do with all the money he’s inherited.
loose fish (n.) [note whaling jargon loose fish, a whale that is fair game for anybody who can catch it]

1. a promiscuous woman.

[UK]‘Answer to Captain Morris’ in Hilaria 71: There [i.e. Ranelagh] girls are ‘loose fishes,’ pull’d up in their turns; /There wives are harpoon’d, and dull husbands get horns.
[UK]Sporting Mag. June XVIII 159/2: Mr. Garrow.–This Madame Mari was a model woman perhaps? A. Quite the reverse. Q. Was she a loose fish, as my learned Friend terms it? A. He took her away from two men who kept her at the same time.
[UK]‘Walter’ My Secret Life (1966) IV 682: Was she a loose fish, she who was thought so chaste?

2. a prostitute.

[UK]Sporting Mag. Nov. XVII 88/1: A loose fish at Drury-lane, lately observing a lady angling in this new style [etc.].
The Satirist (N.Y.) July 60: Here you land [...] scarcely able to find your way through trunks, [...] band-boxes, Jews, Gentiles and loose fish.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 524: Those who are not unacquainted with haddocks, will understand the loose fish alluded to, who beset her doors, and accosted with smiles or insults every one that passed.

3. one who has no settled way of life.

[UK]Egan Anecdotes of the Turf, the Chase etc. 72: A game known among the loose fish who frequent races by the name of ‘the thimble-rig’.
[UK]A. Smith Adventures of Mr Ledbury II 210: He is rather a loose fish.
[UK]Thackeray Pendennis II 242: Our friend Clavering [...] who [...] is about as loose a fish as any in my acquaintance.
[UK]C. Reade It Is Never Too Late to Mend II 240: Mr. Miles was a loose fish; a bachelor who had recently inherited the fortune of an old screw his uncle, and was spending thrift in all the traditional modes.
[UK]Empire (Sydney) 6 May 2/6: The first thing that strikes one [...] is the frequent reference to ‘fast’ and ‘Ioose’ fish. In the slang vocabulary [...] these phrases mean pretty much the same thing — i.e. a gentleman who has somewhat of a contempt for the proprieties and moralities.
[UK] ‘Paddy Miles and the Mermaid’ in Rakish Rhymer (1917) 12: You’re a very loose fish tho’ you look so delicious.
[UK]G.A. Sala in Living London (1883) May 181: He is not precisely a scamp; but he is certainly a ‘loose fish’.
[UK]E.W. Hornung A Thief in the Night (1992) 284: ‘They might be brothers,’ rejoined Raffles, who knew all the loose fish about town.
[US]N. Algren Neon Wilderness (1986) 191: Your average lieutenant is a loose fish, and a disciplinarian to boot.
odd fish (n.)

an eccentric person.

[Ire]J. O’Keeffe Highland Reel 21: You’re an odd fish.
[UK]Sporting Mag. May VI 115/1: Odd fish, queer fish, strange fish, droll fish, / In short they be fish out of water.
[UK]W. Combe Doctor Syntax, Wife (1868) 259/2: I’m an odd fish, but, to be free, / I’m not the only oddity.
[UK]Hereford Times 3 Nov. 4/5: Description of a Sailor — He [...] is an odd fish.
[UK]Comic Almanack Oct. 195: The noo orlines peepel is odd fishis.
[UK]Western Times 4 Sept. 3/4: He is a very odd fish.
[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 194: The next odd fish stood forth.
poor fish (n.)

a sorry person, a pathetic figure.

[US]Van Loan ‘Out of His Class’ in Taking the Count 184: I smiled at him [and] The poor fish blushed all over.
[US]F.S. Fitzgerald This Side of Paradise in Bodley Head Scott Fitzgerald III (1960) 43: I’m tired of being nice to every poor fish in school.
[US]S. Lewis Main Street (1921) 28: You’ve been gone and married this poor fish of a bum medic.
[US]J. Spenser Limey 30: Poor fish, working themselves to death for starvation money!
[UK]Nottingham Eve. Post 1 June 1/5: He suffered from gastritis, but describing hiom as a ‘very poor fish’, the chairman [...] announced a fine of £10.
[UK]C. Day Lewis Otterbury Incident 47: We can borrow them, can’t we, my poor fish?
[UK]Wodehouse Jeeves in the Offing 52: Turn the other cheek, you poor fish.
[UK]R. Rendell Best Man To Die (1981) 81: He tried to give me the impression his brother-in-law was something of a poor fish.
queer fish (n.)

an odd or eccentric person.

[UK]Thackeray Newcomes I 186: That nabob of ours is a queer fish.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Newcastle Courant 2 June 3/7: Among people you know there are many ‘queer fish’ who think and act in a way of their own, without being exactly amenable to a charge of lunacy.
[UK]J. Astley Fifty Years (2nd edn) II 329: There are some queer fish amongst them [i.e. cabbies].
[UK]Gem 23 Jan. 9: My uncle seems to be a queer old fish.
[US]M. Levin Reporter 63: Haines was a queer fish.
[UK]A. Christie Three Act Tragedy (1964) 139: He’s a queer fish.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

fishbagger (n.) [they use their supposedly important briefcase to take home food, esp. cheap fish]

a suburbanite who works in the City.

[UK]Graphic 27 Sept. 5/2: The tradesman shook his head, and explained that ‘fish-bagger’ was a contumelious term applied to those who live in good suburbs ‘without spending a penny there beyond rent for lodgings [...] He goes to town every morning with an empty bag, and returns [...] bringing a little pieve of fish [...] and even his groceries’.
fishbelly (n.) [the colour of the stomachs of some fish]

(US black) a derog. term for a white person.

[US]H.S. Thompson letter 22 Nov. in Proud Highway (1997) 419: Every fish-belly in the nation is out in the open tonight.
fish-black (n.) [the Catholic tradition of eating fish on Friday + the blackness of night]

(US black) Friday night.

[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 219: I know they’re briny ’cause they dug me with a brace of browns the other fish-black.
fish-brained (adj.)

1. calculating, emotionless.

[UK]Bath Chron. 20 Nov. 6/3: Luther doted on women. Don’t ask that of Calvin, for he was a cold, fish-brained austere man.

2. (UK juv.) stupid.

Londonderry Sentinel 9 May 6/4: Observe also that it took this fishbrained fellow from Moville nearly two weeks to answer me, .
[US]Holmes & Grey Odor in the Court [film script] ‘I object to the word fish-brained.’ ‘Strike it out!’.
[UK](con. 1912) B. Marshall George Brown’s Schooldays 29: He must [...] see if the old man was really as fish-brained as he looked.
[US]Nat. Fisherman 63: 1-6 81: [T]his stuff ’bout not havin’ men time ta learn new skills while you’re ut fishin' is what our shacker, Mopbucket, ould call a real ‘fish-brained idea’.
[Aus]D. Whish-Wilson Line of Sight [ebook] ‘You fish-brained fucking moron’.
[US]C. Fayers Journey to Dragon Island 133: [T]he magicians in the castle would never expect a fish-brained scheme like this.
fish-eater (n.)

a Roman Catholic.

[US]L.W. Merryweather ‘Argot of an Orphans’ Home’ in AS VII:6 401: fisheater, n. A Roman Catholic.
[US](con. 1945) F. Davis Spearhead 118: The other man [...] looked like a priest. ‘Janowicz, you’re a fish eater. Go see what those two clowns are up to.’.
[US]B. Hannah Geronimo Rex 242: ‘He said a fish-eater.’ [...] ‘Some use that as an epithet, against Catholics.’.
[US]Maledicta VII 22: Roman Catholics were tagged with […] fish eater, and alliteratively, guppy gobbler.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 148: fish eater. A Roman Catholic, from the traditional R.C. abstention from meat on fast days.
D. Ort My Mother Always Called Me by My Brother’s Name 19: ‘A fish eater. That's all I need. To be hounded by some goddamn lunatic Catholic’.
C. Blount Birthright 297: ‘Sophia and I are both Catholic [...] I am a bona fide fish-eater’.
(con. 1923) B.T. Bauer Gentlemen Bootleggers 96: ‘We have a Klan sheriff but our prosecuting attorney is a fish eater and he will do anything he can to fish the Klan’.
A. Hood Morningstar [ebook] His Midwestern family viewed my mother as some kind of exotic creature because she was Italian and Catholic. Their nicknames for her—unbelievable now—were ‘wop’ and ‘fish eater,’ the latter because Catholics didn't eat meat on Fridays.
fish-eye (n.)

see separate entries.

fishfag (n.)

a fishwife, both lit., i.e. a fish seller, and as pej.

[UK]‘Peter Pindar’ ‘Bozzy and Piozzi’ Works (1794) I 347: He [...] deem’d himself of much too high a rank, With vulgar fishfags to be forc’d to chat.
[UK]‘A. Burton’ Adventures of Johnny Newcome I 30: Here many a Fish-fag sat and stunk.
[UK]G. Smeeton Doings in London 358: The drunken fish-fag, who takes the law on some of her companions for deformation of character.
[UK] ‘Gallery of 140 Comicalities’ Bell’s Life in London 24 June 1/3: Get out, you wagabond! get out, you circumwenting ould fish-fag!
[UK]R. Nicholson Cockney Adventures 3 Feb. 107: Sturdy Irish beggars, fish-fags, smart-looking little prigs.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Handley Cross (1854) 264: A fish-fag’s ware isn’t more perishable than an ’untsman’s fame.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open [as cit. 1835].
[UK]F.E. Smedley Frank Fairlegh (1878) 196: I promised the venerable fish-fag his mother to take especial care of his what do you call ’ums – morals.
[UK]G.A. Sala Twice Round the Clock 14: An amazon of the market, otherwise known as a Billingsgate fish-fag.
[UK] ‘Paddy Miles and the Mermaid’ in Rakish Rhymer (1917) 14: You sweet little fish-fag, I’ll give you fair quarter.
Sth Aus. Register (Adelaide, SA) 29 Nov. 2/6: [S]he behaved more like an intoxicated fishfag than like a lady who bad moved in good society. She ‘chaffed’ the counsel, used the most coarse and vulgar slang.
[Aus]Launceston Examiner (Tas.) 5 Apr.3/2: The honourable member has shown [...] the tone of a bully [...] and the language of a fish-fag.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 162: Fishfag [...] now any scolding, vixenish foul-mouthed woman.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 26 Jan. 6/1: She used to be a ‘Scotch fish fag’.
fish frighteners (n.)

(Aus.) tight short male bathing trunks.

[Aus]B. Moore ‘Aus. Sl.’ paper presented to Leicester U. Slang Workshop, Sept. 2012 n.p.: The speedo variety [of trunks] developed an extraordinary number of risqué or simply curious synonyms: [...] fish frighteners.
fish-fry (n.)

(US black) a party to which guests bring refreshment, or pay to attend, c.f. rent party; thus as adj., well supplied with money.

[US]T. Gordon Born to Be (1975) 117: The Ethiopeans of the district were having their annual Fish Fry.
[US]Louis Jordan ‘Saturday Night Fish Fry’ [lyrics] You don’t have to pay the usual admission / If you’re a cook or a waiter or a good musician. / So if you happen to be just passin’ by / Stop in at the Saturday night fish fry!
[UK](con. 1940s) G. Morrill Dark Sea Running 11: Don’t stand around like a flock of old whores at a fish fry. Move.
[US]R. Gover One Hundred Dollar Misunderstanding 22: He so fishfry flush he kin hardly git his mothahhumpin hands roun that wad!
[US]C. Himes Pinktoes (1989) 156: Just some of us girls got together to fry some fish.
[US]Simon & Burns Corner (1998) 90: Little was heard from the colored folk [...] save for the occasional house-rent party or fish fry.
fish-head (n.)

see separate entries.

fish-hook (n.)

1. in pl., the fingers [the term, derived f. 19C naut. use, was UK and then moved to US black use by 1930s].

[UK]Marriage of Wit and Science V i: Gods fish hookkes and knowe you not mee.
C. Dibdin Jew Pedlar 1: Vat do you do vid your fish-hooks in my box?
[UK]D. Haggart Autobiog. 20: We observed a conish cove, who sported an elegant dross-scout, drag, and chats. This was too much for our fish-hook fingers. We attempted to snib.
[UK] ‘The Song of the Young Prig’ in C. Hindley James Catnach (1878) 171: My fingers are fish-hooks, sirs.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 72: The shallow boy [...] darted his fish-hooks into his boddy-bag, and began angling under his armpits [...] ‘I’m as chatty as a bencooling duck’.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[Aus]Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 11 Apr. 13/7: A couple of mug demons caught me red handed, with my fish in a bookmaker’s bag.
[UK]‘George Orwell’ Clergyman’s Daughter (1986) 172: Brrh! Perishing Jesus! Ain’t my fish-hooks blue!
[US] ‘Jiver’s Bible’ in D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive.
[Aus]R.S. Close Love me Sailor 11: ‘Here, dig your fishhooks into one end of the chest there, Ern.’ We swung the chest off the floor between us.
[UK]A. Burgess Enderby Outside in Complete Enderby (2002) 305: Abu grabs what per cent he has a fishhook on.

2. (N.Z.) a problem.

[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 45/1: fish hooks difficulties; eg ‘Any fish hooks in the report?’.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].
fish-horn (n.)

1. (US ) a non-specific (brass) wind instrument; cit. 1866 poss. refers to another instrument.

F. Cozzens Sparrowgrass Papers 38: Mrs. Sparrowgrass asked me who that was ‘blowing a fish-horn’ [bugle].
[US]Night Side of N.Y. 76: If any man had put down a tin whistle in the pot, it would have run to a wagon load of fish horns.
[UK]Illus. London News 25 Jan. 21/2: Bringing In the New Year in New York [...] Drum and fife bands playing [and] a fierce blowing of ‘fish-horns’.
[US] L.A. Herald 2 May [Internet] Then another blew a blast from a fish horn in his ear [...] he joined in the fun, showered back the shimmering confetti, and blew his own fish horn.
[Ire]Wicklow News-Letter 23 Jan. 9/3: [V]illage boys armed with terrible noise-making instruments ranging from ‘fish-horns’ to ‘horse fiddles’.

2. (US, chiefly black) a saxophone.

[US]Charleston (WV) Daily Mail 31 July 6/8: Musicans have slang terms for every instrument [...] Fish horn – soprano saxophone.
[US] ‘Jiver’s Bible’ in D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive.
Muskrat Ramblers Muskrat Ramblers Vol. III [album sleeve notes] Frank DeFranco on clarinet and fishhorn.
fish scales (n.) [? resemblance to the flakes of crack cocaine]

(drugs) crack cocaine.

[US](con. 1982–6) T. Williams Cocaine Kids (1990) 41: The kids out here don’t know a flake from a fish – if you asked them what fishscale is, they wouldn’t know. [Fishscale is high-grade cocaine powder with few rock-like chunks].
[US]J. Stahl Plainclothes Naked (2002) 213: They say they’re in a band. Told me they wanted fish-scales. It took me a minute to figure out that meant crack.
[US]J. Stahl Happy Mutant Baby Pills 94: Never mind the Mexican tar and fishscales, as old-time crackheads referred to their brain-crusher of choice.
fish-wrapper (n.) (also fishwrap, fried fish wrapper, meat-wrap, meat wrapper) [the assumption that newspapers were good only for wrapping fish]

(orig. US) a newspaper.

[[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 12 Mar. 8/4: As a rule the Echo is good — if only to wrap candles in].
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 17 Jan. 22/2: We understand that the dirty cur who runs the fried fish wrapper over the way objects to our name being placed on the hospital committee of this district, and he has also sobered up long enough […] to empty on our devoted head a small quantity of that slime with which his dirty, bloated, whisky-preserved carcase is filled.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 3 Mar. 1/1: The dapper Dean was shocked at the Rhodes-scholar letters in the morning meat-wrap.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 12 Sept. 28/1: Dear brothers, in conferring the editorship of this, our valuable meat-wrapper, upon you, we have only one request to make, i.e., that you keep it like Cæsar’s wife, beyond reproach.
[Aus]Bug (Aus.) Aug. [Internet] Of course, I am speaking with me dick in me hand or with me something in me something, as they say in those fancy barramundi wrappers they print stuff in, down Mexico way. [Ibid.] Sept. [Internet] It wasn’t until reading the fish-wrappers in recent weeks that I recalled our encounter.
[US]T. Dorsey Hurricane Punch 21: ‘Go to the fish wrappers — ’ ‘The what?’ ‘Newspapers.’.
[US]Baltimore Sun (MD) 11 Sept. E5/2: Are you somking some wacky medical shit all rolled up in sheets of asswipe fishwrap you poop your writing onto?’.

In phrases

die on a fish day (v.)

see under die v.

drink like a fish (v.)

see under drink v.

fish ’n’ chip mob (n.) [note Sandhurst jargon fish ’n’ chip mob, unfashionable regiments]

(UK society) anyone considered socially unacceptable.

posting at www.holidaysuncovered.co.uk [Internet] Afandou [...] is lively without being over the top, and the ‘fish and chip mob’ tend to stay away in favour of Falaraki, a few miles up the coast.
not give a fish’s tit (v.)

see under tit n.2