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  1. Senior Member
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    #1

    Fish rots from the head

    Hello,

    May I use the idiom without down?

    Fish rots from the head.

    Fish rots from the head down.

    Thanks a lot.
    Not a Teacher

  2. Moderator
    Retired English Teacher
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    #2

    Re: Fish rots from the head

    The standard idiom uses 'down', but sometimes 'down' is omitted.

    It's 'A fish rots from the head down'.

    Click here.

  3. Skrej's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Fish rots from the head

    Huh, that's a new one to me.

    I realize it's an idiom, but I still question the logic, since we always gut a fish, but often leave the head on.
    Wear short sleeves! Support your right to bare arms!

  4. Raymott's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Fish rots from the head

    And fish only die after they've been gutted but not decapitated? There's nothing in the idiom about human intervention. I question the assumption. But they don't usually die standing upright either, so that's a problem.

  5. Skrej's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Fish rots from the head

    My point was that the guts are a major source of bacteria, which kick-start the decomposition process.

    Human intervention or not, if you've ever seen a dead fish, the head is usually the last part to decompose. The cleaning example was to illustrate that's why you can leave the head on, but have to remove the intestines or else the meat gets contaminated.

    I"m having trouble posting images, but a Google image search of 'dead fish' will illustrate my point.

    I suppose it's pointless to argue, idioms aren't supposed to be logical.
    Wear short sleeves! Support your right to bare arms!

  6. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #6

    Re: Fish rots from the head

    I read somewhere that the brain is generally the organ that decomposes the fastest. The gut might be more poisonous to people eating it.

  7. Piscean's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Fish rots from the head

    In some of us, the decomposition of the brain begins before death.

  8. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #8

    Re: Fish rots from the head

    My kidneys and heart are doing OK according to my doctor, but the rest are well ahead of the pack. I haven't even asked about the brain.

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