A Fish Out of Water

Meaning and Usage

“A fish out of water” is an idiomatic expression used to describe someone who feels uncomfortable or out of place in a new or unfamiliar environment, or who is in a situation that they are not used to. It can also refer to someone who is not in their natural element or who is not suited for a particular situation.


  • “I’m used to living in the city, so when I visited my friend’s farm, I felt like a fish out of water.”
  • “After spending most of her life in the country, moving to the big city made her feel like a fish out of water.”
  • “The new employee struggled to adapt to the company’s fast-paced environment and felt like a fish out of water.”


The phrase “a fish out of water” is believed to have originated in the 1600s, when the idea of fish being unable to breathe on land was first explored. It became a metaphor for people who were in unfamiliar surroundings and unable to thrive.


  • out of place
  • uncomfortable
  • ill at ease
  • awkward
  • unsuited
  • displaced
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Professor Emeritus of Educational Leadership University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill at Camford Publishing
Founder of On the Horizon (camford publishing)and The Technology Source, and professor of education at North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Dr. Morrison is author and co-author of over 200 publications focusing on educational planning and using information technology tools.Dr. Morrison has delivered numerous conference presentations and workshops for associations such as EDUCAUSE, AAHE, the College Board and others.He has served as a planning consultant to a number of colleges, universities, university systems, community colleges, educational agencies and public agencies such as the U.S. Department of Labor, and Department of the Army.His consulting activities focus on assisting organizations to integrate information technology tools in teaching and management.

The title of his Speech is “The Future of Distance Learning.” Professor Morrison will describe the driving forces that will affect education and distance learning in this decade and will focus on the implications of these forces for education and distance learning
Dr. James Morrison
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