There are so many idioms and expressions in English that have to do with fish and seafood! You might be fresh off the boat or feel like a fish out of water in an English-speaking country, but watch this video, and the world will be your oyster. You won’t clam up when you have to speak. You’ll stop being a dead fish in bed.
15 Fishy Expressions in English video
Once in a lifetime opportunity, and I must say, my very first idioms lesson. You people have asked me and requested, “Ronnie, please do idioms. Ronnie, please do idioms.” And Ronnie goes, “Ronnie doesn’t like idioms because I don’t really use idioms.” I don’t think they’re very useful. But then today, an idiom popped in my head, and it had to do with seafood. Now, I don’t remember what the idiom was because it was the morning and I was walking to school innocently. But I started to think about seafood and fish. I got a little sick because I hate seafood. I don’t really like fish either, but I thought, “Wow. You know what? I’m going to teach you because you want to learn about idioms.” So here you go. Ronnie’s very first — hopefully not the last — lesson about idioms. These ones are with seafood and fish.
The first one. You can say, “He or she is a shrimp.” Now, do you know what a “shrimp” is? I will draw you a picture I’m not very good at drawing pictures, but I’m going to try. So a “shrimp” is a little sea creature that has a lot of legs and a tail. Yeah. It looks like that. So the meaning of “he’s a shrimp” or “she’s a shrimp” means the person is very short — not necessarily thin, but quite short. So you can say the person “is a shrimp”. You probably want to eat that person now, don’t you? I don’t. So “he’s a shrimp” means a very short person.
We have another expression that I really like. I don’t understand why we use it, but we do. “The world is your oyster.” “Oyster” is another type of seafood. It’s a shellfish. Now, the problem with me and drawing shellfish is they’re all going to look the same. But an oyster is quite a large shellfish. The outside of the oyster is black, and inside, it can be either an orangey-pink color, or it can be white. And the thing that’s very special about an oyster is they make precious pearls. So maybe you have a pearl necklace. The pearl was made in an oyster. So the expression “the world is your oyster” means you can do anything you want to do. Isn’t that cool? “The world is your oyster.” Whatever you want to do, you can do it. There are no limits. If you want to do something, go and do it, and get a pearl necklace.
Another expression is “a fine kettle of fish”. This I don’t think is too difficult to understand, but “fine” means “very good”, and a “kettle of fish” is a big pot full of fish. A long time ago, we were very dependent on nature for our food. So having a big kettle or a big pot of fish was a really, really good thing because that means that you would have a lot of food to live on. Now, we have processed food and we can make genetic food, so we don’t rely on nature as much as we used to. So “a fine kettle of fish” means you’re going to eat for a while. But we mean this to be a really, really good situation. So it’s a good situation.
The next one, “pool shark”. “Pool shark”, funnily enough — “pool” — maybe you’re thinking of a swimming pool. No, no, no. “Pool” is a game. Another word for it is “eight-ball”. Okay? A different kind of pool game is billiards. So eight-ball and pool are the same, and billiards is different. But a “pool shark” is someone — usually a man — who is very, very good at the game of eight-ball or the game of pool. Just in case you don’t know, “eight-ball” is a game — you have 16 balls here. And the object is to use a cue and to hit the balls into the pockets. So if you are a “pool shark”, it means you are very good at this game.
This is not a good thing, “fish outta water”. Now, “outta” is how we would normally say “out of”. But in native speaking, we don’t say “out of”; we say “outta”. “Fish outta water.” So if you think about this — if you’re a fish, where do you live? The ocean or a fish tank if you’re not a lucky fish. If you’re a “fish out of water”, what’s going to happen? First of all, you’re going to feel very uncomfortable, probably a little dry, and then guess what? You’re going to die. So people use the expression to say, “I feel like” or “I felt like a fish out of water.” It basically means that you feel very uncomfortable. It doesn’t mean you’re going to die. It just means you feel very uncomfortable. Good.
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