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 ?
And that's a fine thing to do, and manly too,' said Nicholas,
cried out one, as he pricked himself with the Darning-needle; 'he is a fine fellow though
There was once a fine gentleman, all of whose moveables were a boot-jack and a hair-comb: but he had the finest false collars in the world; and it is about one of these collars that we are now to hear a story.
All that I have, is, a fine gentleman, a boot-jack, and a hair-comb.
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.
And, as the writer of the article which started this train of thought says with lovable warmth, the sailing of yachts is a fine art.
Give them their choice between a fine or an official whipping.
In, a fine ship, the Amelia, fitted out for the express purpose, and at the sole charge of the vigorous Enderbys, boldly rounded Cape Horn, and was the first among the nations to lower a whale-boat of any sort in the great South Sea.
It was a fine gam we had, and they were all trumps --every soul on board.
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.
I am convinced," said Edward, "that you really feel all the delight in a fine prospect which you profess to feel.
He was a fine, haughty-looking savage, fancifully decorated, and mounted on a high-mettled steed, with gaudy trappings and equipments.
As a proof of his regard, he had determined to give him a fine horse, which would go further than words, and put his good will beyond all question.
The poor of her day had made her a fine funeral, with tears and benedictions; but, to their great regret, the pious maid had not been canonized, for lack of influence.
The Woggle-Bug was head professor at the Royal College of Oz, and he had composed a fine Ode in honor of Ozma's birthday.