fine kettle of fish

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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