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

You are wondering about the meaning of the phrase swim like a fish, maybe you heard it in a TV show, movie or theater play. Although this idiom is not used very often, it enriches your capacity of expression and strengthens communication. In which case is the expression swim like a fish used and what is its meaning?

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

From One Language to Another: Idioms in Translation

Translating idioms from one language to another can be a tricky task, as the cultural context behind an idiom can be difficult to capture. For example, the French phrase "avoir le cafard" translates to "to have the cockroach," which means to feel down or depressed. Similarly, the Chinese idiom "????" (j?ng d? zh? w?) translates to "frog at the bottom of a well," which refers to someone with a narrow view of the world.


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