mackerel

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holy cow

An exclamation of surprise, shock, or astonishment. Holy cow, the bill for that dinner is nearly $200! We won the lottery? Holy cow, that's amazing news!
See also: cow, holy

holy mackerel

An exclamation of surprise, shock, or astonishment. Holy mackerel, the bill for that dinner is nearly $200! We won the lottery? Holy mackerel, that's amazing news!
See also: holy, mackerel

Holy mackerel!

Inf. Wow! Holy mackerel! What a beautiful day! Holy mackerel! What's this? A new car?
See also: holy

holy cow

Also, holy mackerel or Moses or moly or smoke . An exclamation of surprise, astonishment, delight, or dismay, as in Holy cow, I forgot the wine, or Holy mackerel, you won! or Holy Moses, here comes the teacher! or Holy smoke, I didn't know you were here too. The oldest of these slangy expletives uses mackerel, dating from about 1800; the one with Moses dates from about 1850 and cow from about 1920. None has any literal significance, and moly is a neologism devised to rhyme with "holy" and possibly a euphemism for "Moses."
See also: cow, holy

a sprat to catch a mackerel

BRITISH, OLD-FASHIONED
If you describe something you do as a sprat to catch a mackerel, you mean that it involves a small cost or amount of effort but it will bring you great rewards or benefits. Setting a sprat to catch a mackerel, the store is offering in its summer sale a chrome blender for £99 (was £149) to those who spend £50 or more. Note: A sprat is a type of small fish and a mackerel is a larger fish. Both fish may be eaten.
See also: catch, mackerel

a sprat to catch a mackerel

a small expenditure made, or a small risk taken, in the hope of a large or significant gain. British
A sprat is a small sea fish, while a mackerel is rather larger. The phrase has been in use since the mid 19th century and is also found with whale in the place of mackerel .
See also: catch, mackerel

(be) a ˌsprat to catch a ˈmackerel

(informal) (be) a fairly small or unimportant thing which is offered or risked in the hope of getting something bigger or better: The competition and prize of a free car is a sprat to catch a mackerel. The publicity will mean good business for months to come.
Sprat and mackerel are both types of fish. Sprats are very small.
See also: catch, mackerel

Holy mackerel!

(ˈholi ˈmækrəl)
exclam. Wow! Holy mackerel! What a day!
See also: holy
References in periodicals archive ?
The negotiations by the coastal states - the EU, Norway, Iceland, Faroe Islands and Russia - resumed in London, on 15 January, with a view to ending the mackerel war.
Regulation (EU) 793/2013, adopted on 20 August 2013, has imposed trade sanctions on the Faroe Islands that prohibit them from exporting Atlanto-Scandian herring and mackerel to the EU and from using European ports, save for emergencies.
These mackerels love to hold in some of the many dredge holes that we have in South Florida, so give them a shot as well.
Large king and Spanish mackerel plus sail-fish, dolphin, blackfin tuna and big cobia have been fattening up all winter on loads of pilchards, ballyhoo and shrimp.
Building two computational mackerels (one that beat its tail like a mackerel and a second that wriggled like an eel) and two eels (one that wriggled and another that beat its tail like a mackerel), the engineers set the fish racing from standing starts and noted how they performed.
The negotiations by the coastal states - the EU, Norway, Iceland, Faroe Islands and Russia - will resume in London, on 15 January, with a view to ending the mackerel war.
Drift gill nets may not be used in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to fish for king mackerel of the Gulf migratory group or Spanish mackerel of the Gulf and Atlantic migratory groups, Joseph W.