What does the idiom "swim like a fish" mean?

Are you using the idiom swim like a fish but not sure about its meaning? Using idioms, which are important elements of spoken and written language, in the right place strengthens your language skills. Examine the meaning of the swim like a fish idiom and the situations in which it is used.

Meaning of "swim like a fish"


The English idiom “swim like a fish” is used to describe someone who is very efficient and skillful at swimming. This phrase usually implies that the person can maneuver in the water with a similar level of grace, speed, and agility as a fish.


This phrase is thought to have originated from the medieval era and has been associated with fishermen and sailors who often observed fish swimming in and out of the water, as well as their ability to dive for long periods of time. The phrase was eventually adopted by swimmers who saw the fish and thought to emulate their movements in the water.


The idiom is used to describe a person’s ability to move quickly, accurately, and gracefully through the water. This phrase can be used to describe a person’s skill level in any type of aquatic activity, such as swimming, diving, surfing, or sailing. It may also be used to contrast individuals who have difficulty maneuvering in the water.

Example Sentences

  • Jeff took swimming lessons and now he can swim like a fish.
  • It was amazing to watch Julie swim in the pool - she moved so gracefully, like a fish!
  • My cousin tried to pick up surfing but he just couldn't swim like a fish.
  • My niece has been swimming lessons since she was little and now she swims like a fish!

The meanings of the words in the "swim like a fish" idiom

Idioms with similar meaning

"Don't judge a book by its cover" is an English idiom that means you shouldn't make assumptions about someone or something based solely on its appearance. In Japanese, the similar idiom is "Hana yori dango," which translates to "Dumplings rather than flowers." This idiom means that substance is more important than appearance.


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