It’s usually used to remind someone that just because they missed out on a relationship doesn’t mean they’re doomed to a lifetime of loneliness. There are many other partners for them to meet in the future. “There are other fish in the sea” originated sometime during the 16th century and came into common use in the mid-1800s.
“There are other fish in the sea” Meaning
“There are other fish in the sea” is a proverb that describes the fact that there are numerous potential partners in the world.
Someone who has recently gone through a breakup might take some comfort in the fact that the person they’ve lost is not the only person they might love in the world. There are billions of people out there, just like there are billions of fish in the sea.
The word “fish” is used to symbolize all the men and women in the world who are looking for a partner. The “sea” is the world itself or the pool of human beings one might be compatible with. The phrase is quite well-known, and very few people are likely going to need an explanation to understand what it refers to.
When to Use “There are other fish in the sea”
It’s possible to use “there are other fish in the sea” in a wide variety of situations. The phrase is commonly used among friends and family members when one person has got out of a relationship or has experienced one or more failed dates. The best time to use it is someone needs a few words of comfort, or you want to lighten the mood. Due to the fact that this phrase is so well known, it’s unlikely that someone is truly going to feel better or be moved by it. But, the sentiment is still relevant. Like most proverbs, no matter how cliché it becomes, it’s still applicable to everyday life.
The proverb should not be used in more serious situations. For example, it’s unlikely that one would fare well if they used the phrase in a business or academic setting. It should be reserved for conversations with friends, family members, and close colleagues with whom one can speak openly about relationships. It should also be noted that the phrase can be interpreted as dismissive and cold in some instances. For example, imagine if one friend is crying over the loss of a partner they cared deeply for and another uses “there are other fish in the sea” in the midst of their grief. This would come across as uncaring and poorly timed.
- Don’t worry. There are other fish in the sea.
- You don’t need her! There are other fish in the sea.
- My mom always told me to remember that there are other fish in the sea.
- When you’re feeling down, remember, there are other fish in the sea.
- If there are other fish in the sea, there’s no reason for me to be so sad.
Why Do Writers Use the Proverb?
Writers use “there are other fish in the sea” in the same way and for the same reasons that people use the phrase in everyday conversation. Writers are well aware that phrases like this are used in everyday speech. This means that they are often included in a dialogue between two characters. For example, if one character has gone through a breakup and the other, not really caring how the former feels, uses “there are other fish in the sea” as a way of dismissing their pain. This can help readers determine a lot about the dynamic between two people, at least in one moment.
Writers are also aware of how proverbs, idioms, and other colloquialisms are often overused and become cliché. This means that if used incorrectly or without considering how they’re received, a writer might fall victim to the cliché itself and end up creating uninteresting dialogue.
Like most idioms and proverbs, “there are other fish in the sea” does not have a clearly defined origin. It’s thought that the phrase dates back to the 16th century, but it has evolved significantly since then. At one point, it’s thought to have read as:
In the main sea, there’s a good store of fish.
Clearly, this phrase is quite different from the proverb that’s used today. This is quite common with these older phrases. They go through transformative periods in which the words and the meaning can change. By the mid-1800s, the phrase was used as it’s recognized today to describe the number of potential partners in the world. It was used in a popular song, “There Are Plenty of Fish in the Sea,” in 1862 by Stephen Foster.
People use “there are other fish in the sea” when they want to remind someone that the person they’ve recently broken up with or a failed date was not their only chance at happiness. There are plenty of other options out there, or “fish in the sea.”
It depends on the situation. It’s okay to use the phrase if you’re aware of how it’s going to be received by the person you’re using it with. If you use it in a lighthearted manner, it’s likely going to come across fine. But, if you use it dismissively, your friend or family member might be offended.
It’s unclear who first used this phrase. It likely dates back to the 16th century in one form or another. The proverb was in common use by the mid-1800s.