Saturday, 28 April 2018

Where Did That Come From? Fishy sayings

A different kettle of fish – ok this phrase has much the same meaning as 'it's a whole new ball game'. That is, this is something else all together.  It is thought that a kettle of fish is one of those long saucepans made to fit a whole fish.  No one seems to know what fish had to do with it in the first place!

Bigger fish to fry – this is usually when someone says that they can't do something because they have some much more important thing to do.  This saying is at least 400 years old.  I can't help wondering whether the meaning of 'fry' in this context is not about cooking but somehow a reference to 'small fry' meaning small fish.

Like a stunned mullet – if someone looks like a stunned mullet they are shocked into silence and glazed.  Extremely surprised.  This one comes across the ditch – from Australia.  The origin of this one is clearer.  If you have just caught a mullet (a sort of fish) and you bang it on the head to kill it, the fish will look like the person you are describing.

He's a cold fish – This person is hard-hearted and unfeeling.  First used by Shakespeare.  Don't confuse this with 'coldfishing' which has another meaning altogether.  Since all fish are cold-blooded this phrase is a bit of a tautology (showing off here)

Drink like a fish – Well, we all know that this describes someone who is a heavy drinker.  But, here's the thing, fresh water fish don't drink the water.  Apparently sea fish do!  But fish do keep their mouths open when they are getting in oxygen so it does look like they are drinking.

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