fish out of water, a

fish out of water

One who does not feel comfortable in a new environment. When Carla transferred to a new school, she felt like a fish out of water because she didn't know anyone there. Marie was like a fish out of water when she assumed a manger position at the company where she had worked as a clerk for so long.
See also: fish, of, out, water
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

fish out of water, a

A person away from his or her usual environment or activities. For example, Using a computer for the first time, Carl felt like a fish out of water, or On a hiking trail, Nell was a fish out of water. This expression alludes to the fact that fish cannot survive for long on dry land. [Late 1300s]
See also: fish, of, out
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

a fish out of water

If you are like a fish out of water, you feel awkward because you are in an unfamiliar situation or because the people you are with are very different from you. I think he thought of himself as a country gentleman and was like a fish out of water in Birmingham. It's not as if I had any obvious trauma in my life; I just felt like a fish out of water. Note: You can use fish-out-of-water before a noun, to describe a situation where someone feels awkward. The fish-out-of-water feeling continued when she went to study in Cambridge.
See also: fish, of, out, water
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

a fish out of water

a person who is in a completely unsuitable environment or situation.
1991 Margaret Weiss King's Test He realized that he was a fish out of water—a pilot in the midst of marines.
See also: fish, of, out, water
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

a ˌfish out of ˈwater

(informal) a person who feels uncomfortable or embarrassed in unfamiliar surroundings: Everybody else knew each other really well, so I felt a bit like a fish out of water.
See also: fish, of, out, water
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

fish out of water, a

A person who is out of his or her element. It presumably was observed in ancient times that fish cannot survive long out of water, because their gills cannot take oxygen from the air if they are dry. St. Athanasius is credited as the first to transfer this idea to human beings out of their usual environment, sometime before a.d. 373. The simile reappears in numerous fourteenth-century writings, by John Wycliffe, Geoffrey Chaucer, and others, and survives as a cliché to the present day.
See also: fish, of, out
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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