fine kettle of fish

(redirected from a fine kettle of fish)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia.
Related to a fine kettle of fish: without a hitch, different 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

kettle of fish

Any given situation or issue. Used with specific modifiers depending on the context, especially "fine" or "pretty" for something difficult or awkward, and "different" or "another" for something dissimilar. Well, that's a pretty kettle of fish. I thought I paid the credit card bill, but it turns out that I missed the due date by a week. I know you think you're ready for parenthood just because you take care of two dogs, but raising a baby is a completely different kettle of fish.
See also: fish, kettle, of
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

kettle of fish, a fine/pretty

A messy predicament. This term is believed to come from a Scottish custom of holding a riverside picnic, itself called a “kettle of fish,” where freshly caught live salmon are thrown into a kettle boiling over an open fire and then are eaten out of hand, definitely a messy procedure. Sir Walter Scott described just such a picnic in St. Ronan’s Well (1824), but the transfer to other kinds of messy predicament had already occurred in the early eighteenth century. The term appears in Henry Fielding’s Joseph Andrews (1742) and works by Dickens, Hardy, Shaw, and many others, but it may now be dying out, at least in America.
See also: fine, kettle, of, pretty
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
See also: