I always use the word "raise" for animals. But all of a sudden, I encountered a passage that says "grow fish." So do these mean the same: "raise fish" and "grow fish"?

Is one of them better than the other in this case? In what circumstances would we use one or the other?


One can draw a comparison between raising a pet and raising a child. You not only feed them, but spend quality time with them. Fish, on the other hand, aren't quite given quality time, and given the lack of context I assume the fish were grown in a fish farm, in which case you treat them like plants - feed them and wait for them to grow.

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    There's an UP/DOWN metaphoric component to raise that happens with mammals, at least. They get visually higher above the ground, as they grow. This is not present for fish, which aren't above the ground. – John Lawler Jun 19 '15 at 17:12
  • Not quite sure, but typical uses are to grow maize, to raise children, to breed horses. – rogermue Jun 19 '15 at 17:16
  • @rogermue: Not exactly, with horses. The person who breeds the horse (that is, gets the mommy & daddy horse together to make a foal) may well not be the one who raises it. Though note the usage has changed: in Shakespeare (e.g. As You Like It) you'll see breed being used in the sense of raise. – jamesqf Jun 19 '15 at 18:18
  • @John Lawler The modern metaphorical broadening of transitive 'grow' (usually 'a business') doesn't seem to have the immediate UP/DOWN tie-in (unless they build taller buildings). – Edwin Ashworth Jun 19 '15 at 19:00
  • No, that's the agricultural metaphor, not the herding one. Plants grow upwards, and so does any endeavor that's tilled, sown, and tended properly, under that metaphor. Sew, and ye shall reap, etc. But grow businesses doesn't seem to me much like grow daisies; much more like just grow busy. – John Lawler Jun 19 '15 at 19:12

You raise animals and grow plants.


If livestock is propagated for something it produces, then it is raised, i.e. we raise sheep for wool, chickens for eggs, and cows for milk. If they are being harvested then they are grown, i.e. we grow lamb, chickens and cattle for meat.

  • I didn't downvote your answer, but my grandfather raised Angus cattle (a breed used for meat, not milk) on his farm in Texas. He would never have said that he "grew cattle." – Sven Yargs May 18 '16 at 1:47
  • I guess the language is different everywhere. I grew up in the suburbs, so it never came up until I was in college in Maine and met a lot of people that raised a few chickens (for eggs) or goats (for milk), but they would often buy a piglet or calf and "grow" it for a year or two. – Dirk G May 18 '16 at 14:31

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