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) [mid-16C+] the vagina.

(b) [late 16C–early 17C; 1970s+] a woman.

(c) [1920s+] (US gay) a heterosexual woman, sometimes derog.

(d) [1930s+] a prostitute; a promiscuous woman.

(e) [1930s–40s] (US gay) one who masturbates while performing oral intercourse.

(f) [1930s–50s] (US gay) an effeminate male homosexual.

(g) [1950s] sexual intercourse.

(h) [1960s+] (US) a feminine lesbian.

(i) [1970s+] (US gay) semen.

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

2. as money or a monetary token.

(a) [early 18C–19C] a gambling chip.

(b) [late 19C+] (US) a dollar.

(c) [1940s] 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].

3. [late 18C–mid-19C] a sailor; thus scaly fish, a rough, blunt sailor.

4. [mid-19C+] an individual, usu. male and often disliked.

5. [mid-19C+] as sense 4, qualified by a descriptive adj., see also combs. below.

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

(a) [mid-18C+] (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’].

(b) [late 19C–1940s] (US campus) a freshman.

(c) [20C+] (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 ].

(d) [1950s] (US Und.) a prostitute’s customer.

(e) [1970s] (US campus) a socially inexperienced boy.

(f) [1990s+] a virgin or someone who has not even been kissed.

7. [1910s+] (US) a heavy drinker, one who drinks like a fish.

8. [1950s+] (US) a Roman Catholic [the Catholic tradition of abstaining from meat on Fridays].

9. [1970s+] (US) a derog. term for a Newfoundlander [the staple industry].

10. [1990s+] a very unpopular person.

Pertaining to prison

In compounds

fish-bowl (n.)

see separate entry.

fish line (n.) (US prison)

1. [1960s] a bus that brings in new inmates.

2. [2000s] a line used to pull items from one cell to another.

fish queen (n.)

see separate entry.

fish roll (n.)

[1990s+] (US prison) the clothing and other necessities issued to a new inmate.

In phrases

new fish (n.)

[1910s+] (US prison) a new inmate.

Pertaining to female sexuality

In derivatives

fishy (adj.)

pertaining to the vagina (during or after intercourse).

In compounds

fishcunt (n.)

[1990s+] a general term of abuse, aimed at a female.

fish dinner (n.)

[1970s+] (US gay) sexual intercourse with a woman; thus a woman.

fish-fanny (n.) (also fishy-fanny) [fanny n.1 (1)]

[2000s] a general insult aimed at a woman; the implication is that her vagina smells.

fish fillet (n.)

[2000s] (US) the vagina (in the content of lesbian sex).

fish fingers (n.) [play on SE]

[1990s+] (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.

fish market (n.)

1. [mid-19C–1900s] the vagina.

2. [mid-19C–1900s] a brothel.

3. [1960s] (US campus) a women’s dormitory.

fishmonger (n.)

1. [17C] a womanizer, a promiscuous man.

2. [mid-17C] a madame, a bawd.

fishmonger’s daughter (n.)

[late 16C–early 17C] a prostitute.

fishpond (n.)

[17C–18C] the vagina.

fish queen

see separate entries.

fish supper (n.)

[1990s+] sexual intercourse, esp. in the context of a conjugal right.

fish tank (n.)

[1980s+] (US gay) the vagina of a heterosexual woman.

In phrases

bit of fish (n.) [late 19C]

1. the vagina.

2. sexual intercourse; thus have a bit of fish (on a fork), to have sexual intercourse.

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

[1940s+] (US) to perform cunnilingus.

go fish (v.) (gay)

1. [1940s+] for an effeminate gay man to take the ‘feminine’, passive role during sex.

2. [1960s+] of a male homosexual or lesbian, to give cunnilingus.

3. [1970s+] (US gay) to become coy or flirtatious, i.e. to react like a teenage girl.

go fishing (v.)

[mid-19C+] to go out looking for a sexually obliging woman; also in gay use, to seek a sexual partner.

slip the fish

[1990s+] of a man, to have sexual intercourse.

General uses

In compounds

fish-sticks (n.)

[2000s] (US black) money.

In phrases

big fish (n.) (US)

1. [early 19C+] an important, powerful person;also attrib.

2. [mid-19C–1950s] an important event, undertaking etc.

drop a tail of green fish (v.)

[mid-17C] to defecate.

little fish (n.) [reverse of big fish ]

[early 19C+] (US) an unimportant person.

loose fish (n.) [note whaling jargon loose fish, a whale that is fair game for anybody who can catch it]

1. [19C] a promiscuous woman.

2. [early 19C] a prostitute.

3. [early 19C–1940s] one who has no settled way of life.

odd fish (n.)

[late 18C+] an eccentric person.

poor fish (n.)

[late 18C+] a sorry person, a pathetic figure.

queer fish (n.)

[late 18C+] an odd or eccentric person.

timid fish (n.)

[1980s] (Aus.) a shirker.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

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

[late 19C] a suburbanite who works in the City.

fishbelly (n.) [the colour of the stomachs of some fish]

[1960s] (US black) a derog. term for a white person.

fish bits (n.)

[1980s+] (UK juv.) that portion of the hair that hangs down at the back of a mullet n.2 haircut.

fish-black (n.) [the Catholic tradition of eating fish on Friday + the blackness of night]

[1940s] (US black) Friday night.

fish-brained (adj.)

1. calculating, emotionless.

2. [1930s–40s] (UK juv.) stupid.

fish broth (n.)

[late 16C–early 17C] water, esp. when salted.

fish-eater (n.) [1930s+]

a Roman Catholic.

fish-eye (n.)

see separate entries.

fishfag (n.)

[late 18C–mid-19C] a fishwife, both lit., i.e. a fish seller, and as pej.

fish frighteners (n.)

[2010s] (Aus.) tight short male bathing trunks.

fish-fry (n.)

[1920s+] (US black) a party to which guests bring refreshment, or pay to attend, c.f. rent party; thus as adj., well supplied with money.

fish-head (n.)

see separate entries.

fish-hook (n.)

1. [late 16C+] in pl., the fingers [the term, derived f. 19C naut. use, was UK and then moved to US black use by 1930s].

2. [1980s] (N.Z.) a problem.

fish-horn (n.)

1. [mid-19C–1900s] (US ) a non-specific (brass) wind instrument.

2. [1930s+] (US, chiefly black) a saxophone.

fish-pond, the (n.)

1. [early 19C] (Anglo-Irish) the Irish Sea; thus over the fish-pond, England.

2. see pond, the n. (1)

fish scales (n.) [? resemblance to the flakes of crack cocaine]

[1980s+] (drugs) crack cocaine.

fish-wrapper (n.) (also fishwrap, fried fish wrapper, meat-wrap, meat wrapper) [the assumption that newspapers were good only for wrapping fish]

[late 19C+] (orig. US) a newspaper.

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]

[1970s+] (UK society) anyone considered socially unacceptable.

mind your own fish

[20C+] (Aus.) mind your own business.

not give a fish’s tit (v.)

see under tit n.2