smell fishy, to

smell fishy

To seem suspicious of being improper, untoward, or duplicitous. A: "Their numbers don't match up with the taxes they've paid." B: "Hmm, something smells fishy." He thought Janet's response seemed a bit fishy, so he did a bit of investigation into her role in the company.
See also: fishy, smell

smell fishy

to seem suspicious. Barlowe squinted a bit. Something smells fishy here, he thought. something about the deal smelled fishytoo good to be true.
See also: fishy, smell

smell fishy

Be suspect or suspicious, as in His explanation definitely smells fishy; my guess is that he's lying. This idiom alludes to the fact that fresh fish have no odor but stale or rotten ones do. [Early 1800s]
See also: fishy, smell

smell fishy

in. to seem suspicious. (see also fishy.) Marlowe squinted a bit. Something smells fishy here, he thought.
See also: fishy, smell

smell fishy, to

To be suspect. This term, which refers to the fact that fresh fish do not smell but stale or rotten ones do, has been around since the early nineteenth century. J. G. Holland explained it explicitly (Everyday Topics, 1876): “Fish is good, but fishy is always bad.” The metaphor turns up in James Payn’s Confidential Agent (1880): “His French is very fishy.”
See also: smell
References in periodicals archive ?
Tablets that contain chlorophyllin, a related synthetic compound, are given to people with colostomies, as well as those with an inherited disorder that makes their urine smell fishy, to reduce odor.