fish or cut bait

fish

[fish]
noun, plural (especially collectively) fish (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) fishes.
1.
any of various cold-blooded, aquatic vertebrates, having gills, commonly fins, and typically an elongated body covered with scales.
2.
(loosely) any of various other aquatic animals.
3.
the flesh of fishes used as food.
4.
Fishes, Astronomy, Astrology. the constellation or sign of Pisces.
5.
Informal. a person: an odd fish; a poor fish.
6.
a long strip of wood, iron, etc., used to strengthen a mast, joint, etc.
7.
Cards Slang. an incompetent player whose incompetence can be exploited.
8.
Slang. a dollar: He sold the car for 500 fish.
9.
Slang. a new prison inmate.
verb (used with object)
10.
to catch or attempt to catch (any species of fish or the like).
11.
to try to catch fish in (a stream, lake, etc.): Let's fish the creek.
12.
to draw, as by fishing (often followed by up or out ): He fished a coin out of his pocket for the boy.
13.
to search through, as by fishing.
14.
Nautical.
a.
to secure (an anchor) by raising the flukes.
b.
to reinforce (a mast or other spar) by fastening a spar, batten, metal bar, or the like, lengthwise over a weak place.
verb (used without object)
15.
to catch or attempt to catch fish, as by angling or drawing a net.
16.
to search carefully: He fished through all his pockets but his wallet was gone.
17.
to seek to obtain something indirectly or by artifice: to fish for compliments; to fish for information.
18.
to search for or attempt to catch onto something under water, in mud, etc., by the use of a dredge, rake, hook, or the like.
19.
to attempt to recover detached tools or other loose objects from an oil or gas well.
Verb phrases
20.
fish out, to deplete (a lake, stream, etc.) of fish by fishing.
Idioms
21.
drink like a fish, to drink alcoholic beverages to excess: Nobody invites him out because he drinks like a fish.
22.
fish in troubled waters, to take advantage of troubled or uncertain conditions for personal profit.
23.
fish or cut bait, to choose a definite course of action, especially to decide whether to participate in or retreat from an activity.
24.
fish out of water, a person out of his or her proper or accustomed environment: He felt like a fish out of water in an academic atmosphere.
25.
neither fish nor fowl, having no specific character or conviction; neither one nor the other.
26.
other fish to fry, other matters requiring attention: When it was time to act, they had other fish to fry.

Origin:
before 900; (noun) Middle English fis(c)h, fyssh, Old English fisc; cognate with Dutch vis, German Fisch, Old Norse fiskr, Gothic fisks; akin to Latin piscis, Irish iasc; (v.) Middle English fishen, Old English fiscian, cognate with Dutch visschen, German fischen, Old Norse fiska, Gothic fiskôn

fishless, adjective
fishlike, adjective
outfish, verb (used with object)
unfished, adjective

fiche, fish.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
fish (fɪʃ)
 
n , pl fish, fishes
1.  a.  any of a large group of cold-blooded aquatic vertebrates having jaws, gills, and usually fins and a skin covered in scales: includes the sharks and rays (class Chondrichthyes: cartilaginous fishes) and the teleosts, lungfish, etc (class Osteichthyes: bony fishes)
 b.  (in combination): fishpond Related: ichthyic, ichthyoid, piscine
2.  any of various similar but jawless vertebrates, such as the hagfish and lamprey
3.  (not in technical use) any of various aquatic invertebrates, such as the cuttlefish, jellyfish, and crayfish
4.  the flesh of fish used as food
5.  informal a person of little emotion or intelligence: a poor fish
6.  short for fishplate
7.  an informal word for torpedo Also called: tin fish
8.  a fine kettle of fish an awkward situation; mess
9.  drink like a fish to drink (esp alcohol) to excess
10.  have other fish to fry to have other activities to do, esp more important ones
11.  like a fish out of water out of one's usual place
12.  (Irish) make fish of one and flesh of another to discriminate unfairly between people
13.  neither fish, flesh, nor fowl neither this nor that
 
vb (foll by for)
14.  (intr) to attempt to catch fish, as with a line and hook or with nets, traps, etc
15.  (tr) to fish in (a particular area of water)
16.  to search (a body of water) for something or to search for something, esp in a body of water
17.  to seek something indirectly: to fish for compliments
 
Related: ichthyic, ichthyoid, piscine
 
[Old English fisc; related to Old Norse fiskr, Gothic fiscs, Russian piskar, Latin piscis]
 
'fishable
 
adj
 
'fishlike
 
adj

FISH (fɪʃ)
 
n acronym for
fluorescence in situ hybridization, a technique for detecting and locating gene mutations and chromosome abnormalities

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

fish
O.E. fisc, from P.Gmc. *fiskaz (cf. O.H.G. fisc, O.N. fiskr, Du. vis, Ger. Fisch, Goth. fisks), from PIE *piskos (cf. L. piscis). The verb is O.E. fiscian.
"Of all diversions ... fishing is the worst qualified to amuse a man who is at once indolent and impatient." [Scott, 1814]
Fish story attested from 1819, from the tendency to exaggerate the size of the catch (or the one that got away). Fishtail (v.), of vehicles, first recorded 1927. Figurative sense of fish out of water first recorded 1610s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
fish   (fĭsh)  Pronunciation Key 


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Plural fish or fishes
Any of numerous cold-blooded vertebrate animals that live in water. Fish have gills for obtaining oxygen, a lateral line for sensing pressure changes in the water, and a vertical tail. Most fish are covered with scales and have limbs in the form of fins. Fish were once classified together as a single group, but are now known to compose numerous evolutionarily distinct classes, including the bony fish, cartilaginous fish, jawless fish, lobe-finned fish, and placoderms.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

Fish or cut bait definition


Make a decision now; stop hesitating. To cut bait is to stop fishing.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
FISH
first in, still here
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Easton
Bible Dictionary

Fish definition


called _dag_ by the Hebrews, a word denoting great fecundity (Gen. 9:2; Num. 11:22; Jonah 2:1, 10). No fish is mentioned by name either in the Old or in the New Testament. Fish abounded in the Mediterranean and in the lakes of the Jordan, so that the Hebrews were no doubt acquainted with many species. Two of the villages on the shores of the Sea of Galilee derived their names from their fisheries, Bethsaida (the "house of fish") on the east and on the west. There is probably no other sheet of water in the world of equal dimensions that contains such a variety and profusion of fish. About thirty-seven different kinds have been found. Some of the fishes are of a European type, such as the roach, the barbel, and the blenny; others are markedly African and tropical, such as the eel-like silurus. There was a regular fish-market apparently in Jerusalem (2 Chr. 33:14; Neh. 3:3; 12:39; Zeph. 1:10), as there was a fish-gate which was probably contiguous to it. Sidon is the oldest fishing establishment known in history.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

fish or cut bait

Either proceed with an activity or abandon it completely. For example, You've been putting off calling him for hours; either fish or cut bait. This expression, often uttered as an imperative, alludes to a fisherman who should either be actively trying to catch fish or cutting up bait for others to use. It was first recorded in the Congressional Record (1876), when Congressman Joseph P. Cannon called for a vote on a bill legalizing the silver dollar: "I want you gentlemen on the other side of the House to 'fish or cut bait.'" A vulgar synonym from the 1940s is shit or get off the pot.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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