A fine kettle of fish

Posted by ESC on May 15, 2000

In Reply to: Kettle of fish posted by Kerry on May 15, 2000

: Where did the saying 'A different kettle of fish' (meaning a totally different issue)come from?

"fine kettle of fish -- A kiddle or kiddle net is a basket set in the sluice ways of dams to catch fish, a device well known from the time of the Plantagenets. Royal officers had the perquisite to trap fish in kiddles, but poachers often raided the traps of fish, frequently destroying the kiddles in the process. Possibly an official came upon a destroyed trap and exclaimed, 'That's a pretty kiddle of fish!' or something similar, meaning 'a pretty sorry state of affairs!' and the phrase was born. Repeated over the years, kiddle was corrupted in everyday speech to kettle, giving us the expression as we know it today." From the "Encylopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).