An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


An early Christian symbol, the transliteration of the Greek word ixous, “fish.” The letters are the initial letters of the Greek words for Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. This acrostic was used as a confession of faith. The fish was also an iconographic Christian symbol and identified with Christ. In early Christianity a representation of a fish frequently appeared in catacomb paintings and on seals, rings, urns, and tombstones. It is unknown whether the acrostic or the iconographic symbol was first used. Fish are associated with miraculous feedings by Jesus (Mk 6:35-44, 8:1-8) and post-resurrection meals (Lk 24:41-43, Jn 21:1-14). The fish symbol came to be associated with the eucharist, and fish have been shown on the table in artistic portrayals of the Last Supper.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.