fine kettle of fish

fine kettle of fish

A difficult or awkward situation; a mess. Primarily heard in US. Well, that's a fine kettle of fish. I thought I paid the credit card bill, but it turns out that I missed the due date by a week.
See also: fine, fish, kettle, of

fine kettle of fish

Fig. a troublesome situation; a vexing problem. (Usually appears in the expression, This is a fine kettle of fish!) This is a fine kettle of fish. My husband is not here to meet me at the train station, and there's no phone here for me to call him. Alan: Oh, no! I've burned the roast. We don't have anything to serve our guests as a main dish. Jane: But they'll be here any minute! This is a fine kettle of fish.
See also: fine, fish, kettle, of

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 periodicals archive ?
Open a can of worms and you'll wind up in a fine kettle of fish.
All of which is just icing on the cake, really, because voters cannot have their cake and eat it, too, not with the quality of the candidates, a useless party system, and the electoral maze contributing to a fine kettle of fish - I know, I know, fish doesn't go with cake.
So what are you going to do about that fine kettle of fish, Tony Blair?
Oral testimonies from a variety of sources on all sides of the arguments make Ross's section on maintaining LOOT's sexual orthodoxy very interesting and accessible, and she makes good use of them to show that the feminist movement was sometimes "a fine kettle of fish.
Imagine what a fine kettle of fish they'd be cooking for us to feast on or get indigestion from if they came out at the same time to no one's 100 percent satisfaction
Open a can of worms and you may wind up in a fine kettle of fish.