Word of the Day


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1. a glass bowl for keeping live fish as pets
2. a situation where nothing is private and people can see everything that happens

Origin and usage

The word fishbowl is a combination of the word ‘fish’, from the Proto-Indo-European root word ‘pisk’, and the word ‘bowl’ from the Proto-Germanic word ‘bul’ meaning ’round vessel’.


Fishbowl is a word that refers to a large round container used to keep fish as pets. A fishbowl is filled with water and decorative stones and maybe a few plastic plants, then the fish is placed inside where it is free to swim around. Since most fishbowls are round, with no corners or spaces for a fish to hide in, the word fishbowl has also come to mean a situation in which a person does not have any privacy.

A fishbowl is a very basic and simple home for a pet fish. A fishbowl doesn’t have a filtration system or temperature controls, it must be cleaned frequently and have the water changed often in order to keep the fish healthy. Because of this, only certain types of domestic fish are well-suited to living in a fishbowl.

The best fish to put in a fishbowl are small and prefer cold water. Betta fish, guppies, White Cloud minnows, blind cave tetras, zebra danios and salt and pepper corydoras are all suited to thriving in a fishbowl. The most popular pet for a fishbowl, though, is the goldfish.


“Interestingly, koi, when put in a fishbowl, will only grow up to three inches. When this same fish is placed in a large tank, it will grow to about nine inches long.”
(Vince Poscente, Canadian Olympian and motivational speaker)

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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