cold fish

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First used by Shakespeare in The Winter's Tale.


cold fish (plural cold fish or cold fishes)

  1. (idiomatic) A heartless individual; a person lacking empathy and emotion.
    • 1610, William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale, act 4, scene 4:
      [I]t was thought she was a woman and was turned into a cold fish for she would not exchange flesh with one that loved her.
    • 1993, Lisanne Norman, Turning Point:
      He wouldn't have thought her such a cold fish. Pity. Still, there was plenty of time. Perhaps when she got used to his company she would thaw a little.
    • 2003, Robert Wilson, The Blind Man of Seville[1], →ISBN, page 13:
      You're a cold fish. You have no heart.
  2. (slang) A sexual partner who, during sex, lacks vigor or emotional reciprocity.
    Ah, don't be such a cold fish!