Posted by: Dutch | January 3, 2010

A fish out of water


Someone in a situation they are unsuited to.


This metaphor is quite old. Chaucer used a version of it in The Canterbury Tales: Prologue:

…a monk, when he is cloisterless;

Is like to a fish that is waterless

The earliest reference that I can find to the present day wording of the phrase is in Samuel Purchas’s Pilgrimage, 1613:

“The Arabians out of the desarts are as Fishes out of the Water.”

– Special thanks to Gary Martin of The Phrase Finder


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