A Fishy Story – Idiom, Meaning and Sentence Examples

Photo of author

Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Are you angling for an explanation about a fishy story and debating with yourself if it has something to do with an actual fish story? Well, don’t flounder around in confusion; I’m here to untangle this idiomatic knot. So, ready to dive into the deep end? Let’s make a splash!

Is It a Fishy Story or a Fish Story?

It’s not surprising that these two phrases could be a bit confusing. They both involve fish, but one is far more common than the other.

Fish Story vs Fishy Story Ngram
Fish story and fishy story usage trend.

A fish story is like an exaggerated tale, the kind fishermen might tell about the giant fish that got away. But a fishy story is a tale or explanation that seems suspicious or unlikely to be true. But we use fish story more to mean something that sounds like a fib.

Essentially, if something smells fishy, it’s not passing the smell test of authenticity.

Meaning of a Fish Story

A Fishy Story – Idiom Meaning and Sentence Examples

A fish story is a common idiom we use to describe a suspicious narrative or incredible story, something that arouses doubt or seems dubious. If your friend claims to have been abducted by aliens during the weekend, you might think it’s a fish story — unless, of course, they produce the intergalactic souvenirs to prove it!

Origin and Etymology Behind a Fish Story

Fish Story Ngram
Fish story usage trend.

The idiom a fish story taps into the negative connotations associated with the word fishy, which people have used to mean inspiring lack of confidence or questionable since the early 19th century.

The term likely draws on the unpleasant smell of fish, especially when it’s not fresh (Trust me, I know; I’m from a fishing community!). Thus, a fish story is one that doesn’t pass the proverbial smell test — it just doesn’t seem right or truthful.

A Fish Story Synonyms

Here are a few other ways to describe an exaggerated story!

  • Dodgy tale
  • Sketchy account
  • Suspicious narrative
  • Unconvincing yarn
  • Questionable recounting

A Fish Story Idiom Sentence Examples

A Fishy Story – Idiom Meaning and Sentence Examples 1

  • His explanation about his sudden wealth sounded like a fish story to me.
  • She told such a fish story about her whereabouts that I had to question her honesty.
  • The politician’s fishy story about his campaign funding raised eyebrows among the public.
  • His account of the accident seemed like a fishy story; there were too many inconsistencies.
  • The suspect’s alibi was a fish story that the detective didn’t buy for a second.
  • His fish story about being an undercover agent intrigued the children, but the adults were skeptical.
  • She came up with a fish story about a stolen passport to explain her lack of ID.
  • The fishy story of him meeting celebrities in the supermarket was a bit hard to swallow.
  • His fishy story about alien encounters makes for great campfire tales, but we all know it’s just fiction.
  • Her fish story about why she was late to work made her boss doubt her commitment.

The Catch of the Day

So, a fishy story or fish story has nothing to do with marine tales and everything to do with suspicion and doubt. If something seems a bit off, questionably dubious or smells fishy, you might be dealing with a fishy story. So, maintain your skepticism and make sure to take every fishy story with a grain of salt — or should we say, a sprinkle of seafood seasoning? Don’t be fishy about your idiom knowledge; brush up with my other awesome guides!