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verbal noun from fish (v.), c.1300, fysschynge; figurative use from 1540s. Fishing rod (1550s) is older than fishing pole (1791). To "go fishing" is as old as Old English on fiscoð gan.
[O]f all diversions which ingenuity ever devised for the relief of idleness, fishing is the worst qualified to amuse a man who is at once indolent and impatient. [Scott, "Waverly," 1814]
Old English fisc, from Proto-Germanic *fiskaz (cf. Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Old High German fisc, Old Norse fiskr, Middle Dutch visc, Dutch vis, German Fisch, Gothic fisks), from PIE *peisk- "fish" (cf. Latin piscis, Irish iasc, and, via Latin, Italian pesce, French poisson, Spanish pez, Welsh pysgodyn, Breton pesk).
Fish story attested from 1819, from the tendency to exaggerate the size of the catch (or the one that got away). Figurative sense of fish out of water first recorded 1610s.
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.
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.