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fish for (something)
1. Literally, to seek a particular kind of fish while fishing. I heard we're fishing for salmon today.
2. To grope around for something with one's hands. I'm fishing for your phone under the couch, but I don't think it's down here, Mom!
3. To pursue something indirectly, often compliments, as by saying negative things about oneself. Quit fishing for compliments—we all liked your performance, OK?
fish for something
1. Lit. to try to catch a particular kind of fish. We are fishing for cod today, but we'll take whatever we get. We will fish for perch from the riverbank.
2. Fig. to seek some kind of information. You could tell the lawyer was fishing for something from the vague way she asked the questions. The telephone caller was fishing for too much information, so I hung up.
1. Try to obtain something through artifice or indirectly. For example, He was always fishing for compliments, or, as William Makepeace Thackeray put it in Vanity Fair (1848): "The first woman who fishes for him, hooks him." [Mid-1500s]
2. Search for something, as in I've fished for it in all the drawers. [First half of 1700s]
To seek something by or as if by probing: I fished for my blue socks in the top drawer of the dresser. Instead of just fishing for compliments, you should try to get constructive criticism.