Posted by ESC on April 15, 2003
In Reply to: Re: Ply with fishheads? posted by Bob on April 15, 2003
: : : : : : : : I have a professor who has offered two much needed points for the student who can find the origings of the phrase "to ply with fish heads". Is there any one out there who can tell me this, I would so appreciate it.
: : : : : : : : Misty
: : : : : : : I couldn't find anything. Could you give us a clue or two? Is this a British, American or other phrase?
: : : : : : I honestly have no idea
: : : : : www.google.com gives precisely zero hits for both +ply +"with fishheads" and +ply +"with fish heads". On that basis I suspect that your professor has either been drinking or that he's being sneaky and has re-rendered the phrase into a cryptic form. However, if the latter is true, I can't see what the original might have been. I hope you keep us informed once the prof has revealed the answer.
: : : : : As one would entice a mouse with cheese, so one would ply a cat with fisheads, a form of bribery or coersion. Once the fish was eaten, the remains, head, tail and bones were usually thrown to the cat.My dear old Irish grandmother used to say this. Of course, she also told me "Go whistle your ducks to water," which still begs explaining.
: : : I didn't find anything specific on "ply with fishheads", but I did find a couple of sites which seem to indicate that sending someone fishheads instead of flowers as an expression of being unhappy with them in some way could give rise to such an expression... Here are a couple of links.
: : : http://fishheads.diaryland.com/about.html
: : : http://www.senddeadfish.com/home.asp
: : I toyed with the idea that the phrase might be literally. Actually trying to attract something (other fish, cats, etc.) with fish heads.
: Perhaps it's the bait for a wild goose chase....
You have such a way with words.