kettle of fish

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kettle of fish

1. Also, a fine or pretty kettle of fish . An unpleasant or messy predicament, as in They haven't spoken in years, and they're assigned to adjoining seats-that's a fine kettle of fish . This term alludes to the Scottish riverside picnic called kettle of fish, where freshly caught salmon were boiled and eaten out of hand. [Early 1700s]
2. a different or another kettle of fish . A very different matter or issue, not necessarily a bad one. For example, They're paying for the meal? That's a different kettle of fish. [First half of 1900s]
See also: fish, kettle, of
References in classic literature ?
For love is the enemy of haste; it takes count of passing days, of men who pass away, of a fine art matured slowly in the course of years and doomed in a short time to pass away too, and be no more.
It exactly answers my idea of a fine country, because it unites beauty with utility--and I dare say it is a picturesque one too, because you admire it; I can easily believe it to be full of rocks and promontories, grey moss and brush wood, but these are all lost on me.
It must be, I felt with far less consciousness than my formulation of the feeling expresses, that I was of some finer sort myself to be able to enjoy such a fine sort.
Give them their choice between a fine or an official whipping.
He was a fine, haughty-looking savage, fancifully decorated, and mounted on a high-mettled steed, with gaudy trappings and equipments.
He told his mother countless stories every night about his school-companions: and what a fine fellow Lyons was, and what a sneak Sniffin was, and how Steel's father actually supplied the meat for the establishment, whereas Golding's mother came in a carriage to fetch him every Saturday, and how Neat had straps to his trowsers--might he have straps?
It is true this poor unguarded wretch was in no danger from me, though I was greatly apprehensive at first of what danger I might be in from him; but he was really to be pitied in one respect, that he seemed to be a good sort of man in himself; a gentleman that had no harm in his design; a man of sense, and of a fine behaviour, a comely handsome person, a sober solid countenance, a charming beautiful face, and everything that could be agreeable; only had unhappily had some drink the night before, had not been in bed, as he told me when we were together; was hot, and his blood fired with wine, and in that condition his reason, as it were asleep, had given him up.
She knew still better, that Adam Bede--tall, upright, clever, brave Adam Bede--who carried such authority with all the people round about, and whom her uncle was always delighted to see of an evening, saying that "Adam knew a fine sight more o' the natur o' things than those as thought themselves his betters"--she knew that this Adam, who was often rather stern to other people and not much given to run after the lasses, could be made to turn pale or red any day by a word or a look from her.
He had never been a guest in a fine palace before; perhaps he had never been a guest anywhere.
The Grasshopper sat without on a green bank, and reflected on worldly things; and he said too, "Yes, a fine exterior is everything--a fine exterior is what people care about.
Yes, and his master was a fine man, and prosperous, and always had a great feast of meat twice in the year, and with it white bread, true wheaten bread; in fact, lived like a lord, so to speak.
It's a fine boy, Mr Kenwigs,' said Mr Lumbey, the doctor.
At last he came upon an elderly, crusty Jew, who sold second-hand articles, and from whom he purchased a dress of Scotch stuff, a large mantle, and a fine otter-skin pelisse, for which he did not hesitate to pay seventy-five pounds.
If it were merely a fine house richly furnished," said she, "I should not care about it myself; but the grounds are delightful.
On the other side of the lake stood a fine illuminated castle, from which came the merry music of horns and trumpets.