fish rots from the head down

fish rots from the head down

Meaning | Synonyms

  • It refers to failing organizations and how the blame of it should be on its ‘head’ that is its leadership.
  • It does not talk about the biology of the fishes and should not be used as a literal meaning. This is because an actual fish starts to rot from its guts and not head according to piscine biology.

Example Sentences

  1. The company was bound to be closed sooner or later considering the kind of mangers that they had hired. A fish rots from the head down after all.
  2. A leader has to be of a strong will and good character otherwise as it is said, the fish rots from the head down. The whole organization would then have to suffer because of it.
  3. His maid servant doesn’t do anything as asked for. But the fish rots from the head down, look at how unorganized his own life is.

Origin

Although not certain, the origination of this proverb may be associated with Sir James Porter’s work that was published in 1768 called ‘Observations on the religion, law, government, and manners of the Turks’. It is a popularly used for big organizations nowadays instead of for individuals. But using it for individuals would not be wrong.

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F 2 Comments

2 Comments

AuthorKassra writes on 24th October 2018

The Famous Persian (Farsi) beloved poet Rumi originated this. But it is more exciting than the known mere translation.

The word he used for rotting is GNDH in Farsi.
You can pronounce GNDH in 2 ways:

1) GaNDeH (Rots)
2) GoNDeH (Grows / Gets Bigger)

He knew what he was doing as he was a master of literature and intended the double meaning.

So the actual half-verse (part of a major piece) he wrote in Farsi and often used by Iranians for many centuries for bad/good leadership is:

“The Fish Rots/Grows From the head, not from tail”

It is pronounced alternatively to mean bad or good leaders, most often though if not always, it is used to criticise and is pronounced GaNDeH meaning rotting from the head.

AuthorНаталя writes on 18th April 2017

The company was bound to be closed sooner or later considering the kind of !!mangers!! that they had hired. A fish rots from the head down after all. Можливо ви мали на увазі MANAGERS?

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